by Monica Ricci | Featured Contributor
Did you know you possess a superhero power? We all do! Thanks to my superhero power, I was able to enjoy a wonderful weekend doing exactly what I wanted to do with exactly the people I wanted to be with. My superhero power also allowed me to get a new phone and avoid a costly monthly payment. Our superhero power makes it possible for us to do great things, accomplish our goals and create a life we love, but too often we forget it’s there.
What’s this amazing superhero power we all have? The power to say “no.”
Women often have a difficult time saying no and I believe it’s partly because of the way we’re socialized. As young girls we’re trained, (consciously or not) to “be nice.” Little girls are taught to be agreeable, say yes, and take care of others’ needs before their own. And because nurturing comes naturally to most females, it becomes easy to put everything and everyone else first.
The result? We grow into adult women who never learned to say no in appropriate ways. The inability to say no assertively means we’re stressed, over-committed and maybe even resentful.This is where learning to use your superhero power is key.
Remember hearing “You’re not the boss of me!” when you were a kid? As an adult, you are indeed “the boss of you.” You can say no to anything you want to.
We all know people who have no sense of time so they’re happy to waste as much of yours as you’ll give them. One way to say no to time suckers is by simply being less available. When caller ID tells you a sucker’s on the other end of the phone, let them chat it up with your voicemail. If you really must answer the phone, set the tone of the call right up front. Try saying, “Hi Time Sucker! Great to hear from you! I have exactly two minutes before I go into a meeting, how can I help you?”
If your time suckers are technology distractions like email, social media and Pinterest, say no to your own inner third-grader who just wants to play. Putting boundaries on yourself helps you stay focused and boosts your productivity. Try allowing yourself just five minutes per hour of computer fun during work hours, and use a timer to stay accountable. Using five minutes of email or social media as a reward for 55 minutes of focused work is an easy way to enjoy your work day while staying productive. Nothing feels as good as accomplishing all your goals for the day.
Other People’s Plans
Can you chair the Girl Scout banquet this year? Will you be a parent booster for the marching band? Can you organize a charity fundraiser? Will you run for the board of the professional association this year? Do you want to run the networking group?
Because you’re capable and competent, people probably ask you to take charge of things and it’s easy to say yes without thinking because you may have a heart for the group. Before you volunteer for events, causes and organizations, be sure you know the full scope of the work and how much time it require to be done well. Notice the qualifier, “to be done well.” The last thing you need is to be a volunteer who takes a job and doesn’t do it.
When someone approaches you to take on a volunteer project you don’t want, say no and suggest an alternative. I always say, “Thank you for thinking I’d be great in that position. I can’t take it on right now, but you may want to check so-and-so’s availability.” Remember, “No” is a complete sentence you never have to feel compelled to offer a reason.
When you’re a business owner sometimes the hardest thing to say no to is your work. You’re driven, you’re successful, you’re a responsible leader of people, creator of ideas and brewer of coffee. Lots of coffee. Your work is like the Sirens of nautical legend; oh so tempting and lovely yet often the very thing that causes you to crash and burn (out).
Practice setting boundaries in your work life. Let voicemail pick up after hours. Close the laptop at 9:00 pm instead of 10:00 pm. Turn down that new prospect that isn’t quite right for you. Say no to the “great opportunity for exposure” that you won’t make any money on. Suggest a Skype meeting instead of driving across town to have lunch with a networking pal. Here’s one… actually take a whole weekend OFF. (gasp!)
Saying NO to over-extending yourself at work helps you avoid getting stressed out, burned out and turning out less-than-stellar work. Let’s face it, it’s tough to keep your passion around work when you’re exhausted and annoyed.
When you embrace the fact that saying NO to more things in your life is a powerful habit, you’ll get the benefit of being able to have more time, space and energy to say YES to what’s most important to you!
Monica Ricci – Productivity Pro and Speaker – Atlanta GA
I believe life and business should be as enjoyable as possible. Since 1998 I’ve been speaking, writing, creating content and offering one-on-one organizing & productivity training. I’m a fan of spending time with friends, board games, travel, amazing food, great wine and helping people create lives they love!