NO is one of the best words you can get used to saying.

That's what I hope to convince you of today!

It took me a long time to learn this lesson. I was always the person who said ‘yes' to everything!

“Who wants to go out tonight?” “I'm in!”

“Can anyone take on an extra project?” Hand shoots up.

But as life changed and evolved, this began to no longer work for me. I got married. I had kids. Work became more demanding.

Suddenly saying ‘yes' to everything was creating a ton of stress in my life.

Because the truth is, you just can't do everything all the time. You need to make choices. There are seasons of life and some seasons look very different than others.

Now that I've realized this and learned to say ‘no' I actually feel much happier in life.

Why? Because I'm living a much more intentional life than I was before.

I'm doing things that are important to me. I spend time with the people I love the most.

And this applies to all areas of life.

Let's talk work.

At work, saying ‘yes' can be a great strategy early in your career. I have no doubt that more doors opened for me because I put up my hand for everything I possibly could in those early days.

And that's okay! I was 25, single and had no one to worry about but myself. I was early in my career and wanted to make a name for myself.

It was the season to say yes.

But as you move up into management and senior management, saying yes can actually be a detriment! Your value is no longer solely in the stuff you can get done, but in your ideas and thoughts. In your judgement and decision making.

Being too busy and overloaded with work may prevent you from being strategic.

Carving out time to think and be strategic means saying ‘no' to certain things.

I talk to women who are reluctant to say ‘no' for 2 reasons:

  • They are SO used to be the go-to person, they feel they need to do everything in order to be valuable
  • They're worried that saying ‘no' will hold them back professionally

If either of these sound like you, I want you to picture your CEO. How does this person spend their time? Are they doing a ton of tactical work and admin tasks just to be busy?

Probably not!

You need to shift your thinking and buy in to the reality that in order to bring real value to the company, you need time to think bigger and more broadly. And the key word here is TIME.

So get comfortable delegating and spending your time on what matters most, and get ready to see some real results.

Similarly, I look at starting my business in early 2022. I always say that my first year in business was my year of ‘yes'.

Just like at the beginning of my corporate career, I wanted to put myself out there. I wanted to try a lot of things and learn what worked and what didn't.

But after saying ‘yes' a whole lot in 2022, 2023 is my year of ‘no'.

Instead of saying yes to every project, call and speaking engagement that comes my way, I'm focusing my efforts on what I'm most passionate about and what I see working.

And it's HARD to say no so often. Someone sends me a really nice message and asks me to be on their podcast… but if the audience isn't right or it isn't aligned, I say no.

Or I get a request to collaborate on something with another entrepreneur. Same deal. Request for a free call or mentorship? Same.

My inner yes-woman is dying to say yes to all of it. But I know I can't.

Ever heard the saying, “Diluted efforts create diluted results“?

By focusing my business, I expect to at least double it this year compared to my first 12 months. Not bad.

The same goes with your professional success in leadership. Sure, you can try and do everything. But I'm telling you, you're not going to do everything well.

If you're stuck in this cycle and unsure how to break out of it, see my previous newsletters on delegating and boundaries to get started.

Okay, what about in your personal life?

This can be tough in a totally different way. We don't want our friends to think we don't want to hang out. And the FOMO is real!

And this is where it becomes important to get clear on your personal priorities.

Because everything is fun! There are events and lunches and parties and dinners…

The toughest part for me was missing out on the things my childless friends were doing all the time that I wasn't able to take part in.

Umm yeah I want to go to yoga and brunch every Saturday! Weekend retreat away?? Yes please! Oh wait… kids.

Initially this bothered me and I tried to get to everything I could, while also balancing the kids, the house, my career… it was exhausting.

I had to get honest with what my priorities are in this season of my life.

That doesn't mean I never see my friends. Far from it! I carve out time for friends every single week. But it does mean I'm choosey about who I spend my time with and what types of activities I carve out time for.

I've realized late nights out drinking don't fit into this current season. I'd rather:

  • Do dinner with our families
  • Meet at the park with the kids
  • Go for a noon walk and talk about life
  • Go on a hike, a SUP or catch a yoga class

And I've discovered casual friends who aren't into deep conversation don't fit into this season either.

When I realized I had such finite time to spend with friends, I made a rule for myself:

I only invest in friendships where upon leaving our get-together I think, ‘Wow, my cup is SO full'.

I'm honest about what I want right now and I've let go of the guilt associated with not saying yes to people and situations that no longer serve me.

And man, it makes life GREAT!

And this is SO important because saying no is also saying YES.

Saying no to a work trip or a weekend away is saying yes to spending time with my kids.

Saying no a networking event is saying yes to a date night with my partner.

I know what my priorities are, and I try to be really intentional about my calendar reflecting this.

People talk about what's important to them, but let's face it – you vote with your time.

If you say your family is #1 but you're out every night of the week and haven't spent any time with your partner or kids, is your calendar reflecting your priorities? Can something really be a priority if you're not giving it your time?

Last, if you're really struggling to say no – whether it's at work or in your personal life – here are some questions to ask yourself to try and determine what's underneath your reluctance:

  • Is it FOMO (fear of missing out)?
  • Is it guilt, driven by a false sense of obligation?
  • Is it fear of asserting yourself?
  • Or is it that you truly want to do the thing?

Getting clarity why you're feeling this way often makes the decision on what to do clear as well.

Until next time friends… ✌️💜