Saying No

How I tried and failed, then tried again to say No.

Saying No
Photo by Gemma Evans / Unsplash

Much has been written about Saying No.

I enjoy saying yes.

It's about being obliging and agreeable, yes?

It's about being a nice and generous person, yes?

It's about helping a friend or friends out, yes?

When my schedule and list of commitments were so packed, did I do anything? No.

I told myself that I had to work harder and stop lazing around. I had to complete my work faster, so that I could say yes to more work and more social commitments. More, more, more.

Until I saw a friend who was like me, except she wasn't exactly like me. She was incredibly whip-smart, worked like crazy and had a bajillion social commitments. She would arrive slightly late at a social event, before hurriedly leaving slighty earlier for the next event. She was always tired and yet, kept going on.

It was like looking at an extreme version of 'Saying Yes'.

I realised that no amount of smarts and hardworkingness would help me.

However, this revelation isn't The End. Oh no. It would be too simple.

One day, I started planning Projects that I wanted to do. Finish an online course, build up Notion Singapore, finish reading a book and make notes (yes this is a project, else it would never get done), etc.

Then, I made a list of Actions to accomplish these Projects.

I looked at the list of Actions, felt so tired and took a nap.

Joke. Or not.

I realised that:

  1. Stringent prioritisation of Projects was needed. Did I really did to do all of them... now?
  2. There was not enough time to finish all Projects within the timeframe. Something had to give. There are 24 hours in a day, what should these hours be spent on?

I tried. I tried to keep saying yes while doing these Projects.

It didn't work. DUH <- that's me saying DUH to myself far too often

So I had to Say No to commitments. I got asked, "why can't you go out?", why this, why that. At first I would say, "I'm busy", then more questions would come. Some people didn't want reasons, they wanted me to say yes.

Now, I assess the Ask according to my priorities and give a firm No if it's not a match. I don't feel obliged to explain and am comfortable saying, "I don't have the bandwidth" or "It's not aligned to my current priorities". I would never have dreamed of saying these previously.

It took me far too long to learn how to Say No.

Such is Life 😊

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