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Day Two: Saying No

I take a look at the clock: it's 2 am. Why am I still up? I find myself in this situation, wide awake, burdened by commitments that I've taken on. I said yes one too many times... My head is spinning with the tasks that lay ahead, and the realization hits me like a ton of bricks: I've done it again.

This used to be me more often than I care to admit. Nights blurred into days, filled with work, obligations, favors, and tasks that I had willingly accepted. My heart was in the right place, wanting to seize every opportunity and help whenever I could. But my mind failed to consider the opportunity cost of saying yes.

In my case, it was spare time for myself. For you, it could be time to spend with your children, time for hobbies, or time to simply unwind. Whatever the case may be, the failure to say no when needed takes a toll, not just on our time but also our well-being.

I used to think that saying no means you're missing out on an opportunity, and yes, it was my mantra for growth. But I failed to consider what saying yes meant in terms of loss. What other opportunities might have I been missing? How was this affecting my health and well-being? Was I neglecting my personal relationship? Asking myself these questions made me realize that I needed to work on this awful habit.

Here's what I've learned, and here's how I've changed over the last few months:

  1. Practice in front of a mirror: Saying no can be hard. Looking yourself in the eyes and practicing can make it easier when the real situation arises.
  2. Start small: It doesn't have to be a grand refusal. Start with the little things. It builds confidence.
  3. Note down all of your priorities: Knowing what's most important helps in decision-making. If a request doesn't align with your priorities, it might be a sign to decline.
  4. Postpone your answer and think it through: It's okay to ask for time. Reflect on whether you can really commit, without compromising what's important to you.
  5. Offer alternatives: Saying no doesn't mean closing a door. Offer other solutions or suggest someone else who might be able to assist.
  6. Extend your gratitude for the opportunity: Thank them for thinking of you, even if you have to decline. It maintains relationships.
  7. Practice, practice, practice: Like anything in life, it gets easier with repetition.

I've gotten much better at this, and it's transformed the way I approach opportunities, commitments, and even my personal life. Saying no has made me more conscious of my time, my needs, and those around me.

This is just a short list of methods that worked for me. If you have methods of your own, I'd love to hear them. If you find yourself overcommitted and stressed, maybe my experience can be a guiding light. It's not about closing doors but about opening the right ones, ones that lead to growth, happiness, and a well-balanced life.

Borys Skowron

August 9, 2023

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