The Importance of Learning to Say “No”

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I have always been a “yes” girl.

I feel guilty saying, “no.”

I feel guilty saying, “no,” so I say, “yes.” And then I find myself overbooked, overwhelmed and over-anxious. I work a full time job. I work more than 40 hours a week. I commute 10 hours a week. Which means that I’m gone for almost 12 hours a day. 5 days a week.

And then I come home. And I blog. Because I love you guys. I love the community that we’ve built. I love sending you thoughtful messages and chatting with you. I love reading other blogs, and participating in other communities.

But it can get overwhelming.

All of it.

Two weeks ago, I was offered a semi-promotion. One that wouldn’t change my title or my pay just yet, but the opportunity to move up to an official manager would quickly be in my sights. I would have direct reports. I would be responsible for the work of two other very talented people.

And I said, “no.”

I said this, not because I wasn’t ready for the position, but because I wasn’t ready for the additional demands on my personal life. I believe in a solid work-life balance, and I’m still working out the kinks in this one. I don’t want to live to work. I work to live.

Of course, I also feel that I have a lot more professional development to work on as a senior copywriter. I want to remain a mentor to newer team members, but I don’t want to be a manager. I want to be a peer. I want to learn from my peers. I want to build on my knowledge as a writer, and not a manager.

So, I said, “no.”

And it wasn’t the last time I said, “no” in the last few weeks. I also said no to social engagements, when I needed a break. It’s hard to stay home when people want you to join them for fun and laughter, but sometimes you just need to stay in and read an entire trilogy of books. And rearrange your cabinets. And give away all of your storage containers to make room for the ridiculous amount of Pyrex and Pfaltzgraff that you bought on Black Friday. Because that’s just what you do when you need a break.

You find joy and laughter in the things that help you relax. For me, it’s reading and rearranging. What helps you relax? Do you have problems saying, “no” too? Tell me about it, Blog Friends.

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16 Responses

  1. It’s hard to say no. Even when you legitimately need to, there’s always that sense that you’re letting someone down or not being helpful. I’m constantly getting requests at work for things and occasionally I HAVE to say no. In the past I’ve run myself in the ground to accommodate everyone’s requests but I can’t do it. I don’t like the person I need become to pull it off.

    Good for you, for knowing when it’s right to say no.

  2. The “yes girl” thing, you learned from the master. When I was 22 years old, my boss at the time gave me a book titled “When I say no, I feel guilty”. I did read part of it…BORING!
    Yes is in our genes. Why do you think I was the perpetual volunteer? It’s ok to say no.
    Love you,

  3. Lots of ladies have said “no!” to me in their lives. 😉 I can generally say no fairly easily. Sometimes fuck no! I just remember Ringo Starr’s “No, No” song. It makes it easy to do it.

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