How to Know What to Say No To

We love to say yes. We love to be helpful and do favors and take on little side gigs to help a friend out. Because we are helpful, loving, kind people. 

And we know we should say no more, because we need to reserve some time for our own things. 

But when we have the time and ability to say yes, or we are unclear about our priorities and boundaries, we have a hard time saying no to those around us.

This might be out of a sense of obligation to family or friends, because they’ve helped you out in the past or because helping out is something important to you (and that’s okay, as long as it fits within your boundaries).

We might have trouble saying no to professional opportunities because on their face, saying yes to promotions or job offers makes sense, even if it doesn’t feel quite right to us deep down.

It’s also hard to say no to things that we’re ABLE to do (with money, time, or energy) even if it inconveniences us or is outside our usual boundaries.

It’s definitely hard to say no to others, but we also struggle to say no to things that push the boundaries we set for ourselves.

We have new shiny ideas that sound more fun than our current focus. We squeeze in another household task even though we scheduled time for creativity or rest.

We procrastinate productively, because saying yes to doing the dishes or another load of laundry is ALWAYS going to be something we can argue is more important than our creative goals, rest, or play.

So it’s time to be more decisive about what we say yes and no to.

Does your yes make sense?

When you say YES to something, you’re saying NO to everything else.

Does that YES align with your vision, values, and goals?

We keep saying yes to be helpful, loving, and kind…

But you need to be HELPFUL, LOVING, and KIND to yourself too.

This means evaluating if saying yes (to yourself or someone else) makes sense for you in line with your values and goals.

How to determine your values

I recently did a core values exercise in a business membership I’m in (Holistic Business Academy by Sarah M. Chappell – highly recommend!) And I listed out ten values like passion, community, growth, confidence, and more.

After a series of whittling-down exercises, I had my top three: intuition, compassion, and consistency. 

It was like a switch flipped in my mind! I realized that all along, in my coaching practice and Passion Pacers membership, these have been my guiding principles all along.

I teach creatives to follow their intuition, have compassion for themselves, and show up consistently for their deep-down dreams.

When determining your values, they’re not set in stone for life. Your top three values will change throughout the seasons in your life. And you’ll have different core values for work than life (for instance, in my life I prioritize rest/balance, and that affects the hours and workload I put into work tasks.

What are your values, in business or in life? 

Here are some examples:

  • Rest
  • Recovery
  • Pacing
  • Compassion
  • Intuition
  • Confidence
  • Imagination
  • Passion
  • Healing
  • Service
  • Family
  • Creativity
  • Debt-Free 

Make a list of ten. I found the exercise was far more powerful starting at ten and forcing myself to eliminate one at a time until I had three. If I had to pick three to start, I would not have picked the same three I ended up with.

When you have three solid core values that reflect you as a person or your business, then you start to filter your yes and no through those values. 

When faced with a decision, ask yourself “Which of my core values does this decision move me toward?” If the answer is none of them, skip it. If the answer is all of them, go for it! If it only touches one or two, you can do a pro-con list or ask for advice from a friend or mentor to help you decide, if you need more help.

How to determine your vision

You can also filter your decisions and actions through your personal or business vision. 

Once I had this core value framework in place, it became very clear what things made sense for my business and what things were just me being “helpful” without making sense for my long-term vision and core values.

For example, I recently stopped providing resume services and career coaching, because that’s not part of my ten year vision.

Imagine yourself ten years in the future. What does that person care about? What decisions do they make? What decisions can you make now to become that person?

For example, if someone called me up out of the blue and offered me a job, I don’t think I’d take it. My ten year vision focuses on self-employment goals. My values and vision aren’t job focused at this season in my life. But maybe your values and vision would make a job offer an easy, vision-centered YES.

Consider urgency and priority

Sometimes short-term priorities take precedence over a long-term vision.

One of my coaching clients is an author, pitching her debut novel to agents. It’s an excellent story, and she’s confident in it, but the query process takes time and it’s rare that a debut novel will make someone instantly famous with a big advance that takes care of all their financial needs.

She also has a business doing bookkeeping and taxes. One of these can pay the bills a lot more quickly and independently of the publishing market, so sometimes she presses pause on the book in order to grow her business.

When her income is where she needs it to be, she gets to go play with the book again. She’s still consistently querying it, because that consistency doesn’t take up too much time, but she isn’t in the deep creative mode of writing because her vision includes getting her business income to a certain level in a short time and that’s where she is focusing her growth. 

How to stay focused

If you are feeling indecision, filter it through your three core values and your ten year vision.

You can also put new, shiny ideas that tempt you on a shiny object list, and connect with your inner knowing in other ways like meditation, journaling, or other intuitive practices.

Please subscribe and review!

This post is a companion to my podcast episode, “How to Use Your Goals to Say No | #23,” available on all podcast platforms. Please subscribe to Run Like Hell Toward Happy and leave a review for the show to help others connect with it!

Get In Touch with Your Intuition

You can also get a copy of my free eBook, “How to Achieve Your Dreams Without Burnout,” with several exercises to get in touch with your inner knowing and pace yourself to work toward your goals.

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