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The benefits of saying no

John Khoury is founder and CEO of Liquic.com, an online directory of health and wellness professionals dedicated to improving the quality of life for people worldwide. After graduating from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland, he moved...

Say no to the unimportant things

We're asked for our help throughout the day – people asking for things, your time, your energy, your attention, your praise, your agreement, your advice.You're asking the same things from others. It happens everywhere – at work, at home, and even on the street with complete strangers. And that's how it goes in life - you give and you take. But saying yes every time someone needs your help can drain you of energy and even your happiness. Saying no is an essential tool for your health and well-being. Here are the benefits of saying no and, because it is hard to do, tips on how to say no tactfully and guilt-free.

Stressed woman in kitchen

Unconscious yes, yes, yes

Since the demands of those around us are mostly flying under our radar, we don't make conscious decisions about what we should or shouldn't give. We're just doing what feels right at that instant, not running it past our big-picture plans to see if "yes" even fits. This doesn't mean saying no to everyone for everything all the time, it means giving yourself more control over how much of Y-O-U that you give.

Here's what saying no will give back to you:

  • More energy. Not only will you be saving energy, the fact that you are now in conscious control will add extra energy.
  • More time. There are only 24 hours in a day, but from now on, more of them are for you.
  • More confidence. Saying "no" to others can often amount to saying "yes" to yourself. This is a back-handed "I love you" to the most important person in your life. Take it as a compliment and feel good about it.
  • More control. Saying "no" means you are behind the steering wheel and can go wherever you want.
  • More respect. You'll respect yourself more and so will others. They might not like you as much, but if they were trying to step over your boundaries before, they probably didn't like you much anyway – not really. At least you'll have their respect when you show them your clear, no-discussion limits.
  • More fun. Yes, life is here to be enjoyed. When you stop working for others, you start working for yourself and start fitting in the fun.

How to tactfully and purposefully say no

  1. Start to notice. Notice that you are being asked to do things all the time by almost everyone with whom you interact.
  2. Get a life plan. There's no way to check if things fit with your life plan if you have no life plan. And if you have no plans and goals, other people will be happy to make them for you. To learn more, visit 10 reasons you need a life plan.
  3. Say no to all of it. Well, not all of it, but 95 percent — right off the bat. Tell people you are too busy right now.
  4. Consider. Then take the time – about five seconds — to consider the top 20 percent of those requests to see if they fit with your life. If so, say "yes." By taking your time, you aren't reacting with a people-pleasing monkey brain and can sincerely consider the importance of requests.

Say yes to the important stuff

Does saying no to so many requests sound harsh? It may seem that way, but wait a sec. Here's the beautiful part (you can go grab some tissues now): you are only saying "no" to silly, unimportant stuff to free yourself to saying "yes" to the important, meaningful stuff, such as giving and contributing. Every plan needs good execution, and a big part of that is focus. Saying no is all about focusing.

Remember, more of you means more to give – to the right people and causes. Best of luck and lots of strength.

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