Monday, March 12, 2018

The Importance of Saying No

Not long ago, I was asked to help with an upcoming event. My response was a quick and resounding "No". The speed at which I delivered this reply actually surprised me. My style in years past was to hedge and/or apologize. But time and experience have taught me a few things, and it's gotten easier to say no. (I must give credit to my husband too. He sees my stress level escalate and encourages margins.) I felt badly about turning this opportunity down, but saying no was the right choice.

This got me thinking - what causes us to say yes when we should say no?

  • We feel guilty.
  • We want the approval of others.  
  • We think it'll further our cause or career. 
  • We want to help family, friends, community, etc. 
  • We're afraid we're missing out on important opportunities.  
  • We think we can handle it, not fully grasping the effects of another commitment.

Why is it important to say no? Because it offers opportunities to properly align our priorities and life. If we don't, it will affect our quality of life, spiritual growth, relationships, health, and work in a negative way. Many of us are too busy, not allowing enough margins or down time. When we set boundaries by saying no, we open the door to time and possibilities - to think, pray, brainstorm, learn, daydream, recharge, do quality work, and build lasting relationships. More time, less stress - the benefits are obvious.

Saying no sounds good in theory, but what can we do to put it into practice and see resulting benefits? Here are a few things that help me.

Define priorities. What are the non negotiable, must-do commitments? It helps to first fill the schedule with people, tasks, and items that reflect our beliefs and what's most important to us.

Don't respond immediately. While it's courteous to reply to the request, we don't owe anyone an immediate answer. Ever. And if they expect one, that's their problem. Take time to think on it, pray about it, and consider all the angles.

Think about the consequences. Consider how you'll feel once you commit to this new thing. Do you imagine feeling overwhelmed, annoyed, stressed out, and otherwise agitated? Or is this a good fit, something you feel led to do? Is it a long or short term commitment? How will it affect your life and family? It's always better to feel peace versus angst about a decision.

Find your good balance. Sure, there will be busier times, extra favors or necessary tasks for others, interruptions, and emergencies that arise that complicate and clog your days. But what's your bottom line? What has God placed you on this earth to do? Use that as a guide and aim overall for the structure that is the best fit for your faith, family, health, and other priorities.

Set boundaries. If you don't define your parameters and priorities, someone else may do it for you. Defend your space. Allow yourself grace. And guard your time. It's a precious commodity and once it's gone, that's it. You don't get it back.

No regrets. Will saying yes cause you to have regrets over doing it, or not having done something else? Consider how you want to spend the remainder of your life. With whom do you want to spend it? Go and live life. A real one. 

Remember this. When you do say no, it gives you the ability to say yes at just the right time. Who knows what great things are just around the corner! :) 

What would you add to this list? Do you find it difficult to say no? How do you manage your priorities and time?

Taking a week off to catch up on some things. Will return on March 26. Enjoy your week! 

Happy writing, 

Image credit: Pexels


  1. Something I still struggle with...but I have gotten a lot better

  2. I'm learning that I can't volunteer for everything, and I want more balance in life. I need to learn to say no more too.

  3. Age definitely has taught me to say no. Sometimes I know it's no but I wait a little to give an answer, just so it doesn't hurt someone's feelings.

  4. Keith,
    I think most of us do in one way or another. Experience teaches us a lot, doesn't it? :)

    I hear you. I liken it to all the charities out there; you can't give to all of them so you make good decisions and help a few. :)

    That's one benefit to getting older, right? :) Yes, that's a good point. No need to crush anyone's feelings. Kindness and tact go a long way.

    Happy writing,

  5. I used to have problems saying no, but not any more! I do weigh all the things you mention here, Karen, before making a final decision. You're so correct in saying we can't get back the time we spend doing anything; that should really make folks think twice before blurting out a yes.
    Blessings to you!

  6. I can say no. I learned that early, which is fortunate. Saying yes to everything, spreads us thin and then we can't do a good job or have a good time doing anything. And then, we begin to resent people. And that is sad and not a healthy way to live.

  7. I struggle to say no because it might be an opportunity that leads to more.

  8. This was very appropriate for me today. I had to say no to an opportunity just last week. It was hard to do, but I knew if I took on the obligation, I'd be a basket case by today. As it is I'm sane and fairly productive.

  9. I don't have a problem with saying NO. Your last thought, saying no gives you the opportunity to say yes at the right time, is so true.

  10. I am pretty good at saying no now (I get better every year). I am trying to help my co-author say no more. She has a problem saying no- so I am going to have her come and read your post. Very helpful! Thanks for sharing. :)

  11. Hi Karen - it's something learnt isn't it ... I'm fairly good at saying 'no' - yet the godchildren said you always think of others first ... so I still need to adapt a bit. But I do say 'no' ... excellent post for so many of us - cheers Hilary

  12. Martha,
    Glad this resonates with you. We learn so much on this journey, don't we? Blessings to you as well. :)

    Glad that you don't struggle with this. That's a good point about resenting others. Been there, done that. No more though. :)

    I hear you. :) It's a tough call sometimes, isn't it?

    I'm glad it was timely for you. It can be a challenge to say no, but I'm with you, sanity and peace win out! :)

    Somehow I imagined you'd be good at saying no! lol That's such a positive trait, for sure. :)

    I get better every year too. Age, wisdom, experience, it all helps us get where we need to be. :) Thanks for passing this along!

    It is indeed! And we're better for it, i'm thinking. :) Adapting and balancing, yes - we'll get there. :)

    Happy writing,

  13. Saying "no" is a gift I've acquired with age, and even now I don't always say "no" when I should. Your post is spot-on, Karen, and you've given great advice. I especially like your point that we shouldn't answer immediately but take time to consider. That alone would probably eliminate many of the times I didn't say no when I should have.

    One thing I hope you won't have to say "no to---you're one of my nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award. The info is on my blog. I'll certainly understand if you opt not to participate! :)

  14. Victor,
    Thank you, and you're welcome. Appreciate you stopping by.

    Thanks so much. Glad this hit the mark with you. And thanks for the award! Will hop over shortly.

    Happy writing,

  15. That was a good post, Karen. Making lists helps me set my time and priorities. I can have the same things to do listed in my head, but when I write them down, they are definitely more likely to get done. I've definitely improved on saying "no," whereas, in the past, a "yes" would slip from my lips. Now I think, "first things first" and go on from there. If it's time to take care of myself in some way, I do that, too, because if we are not good for ourselves, we won't be much good for anyone else. By the way, thanks for stopping by today. It's always a pleasure to see you have visited!

  16. Great list on how to be okay with our 'no.' I can't think of anything to add! Dr. Henry Cloud's study and book Boundaries is a resource I'll point people to for help on boundaries. We are no good to God, others, or ourselves when we don't have godly boundaries.


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!