I can’t count the number of times a friend, coworker, boss, or family member has asked me to do something, and I’ve blurted out, “Yeah, sure!” before I actually considered what I was getting into.

As someone who really values her downtime and hates feeling busy and rushed, I usually end up kicking myself for saying “yes” to too many things, even though it felt good in the moment to agree to it.

I hate feeling like I have to come up with a tactful way to back out of a commitment, but I find myself in that position more often than I’d like.

I USED TO HARD-CORE JUDGE MYSELF FOR THIS.

I thought of myself as a weirdo selfish introvert for not always wanting to stick to plans or do a favor I’d promised for a friend or coworker. I’m finally starting to realize, though, that 1) it’s totally cool to be an introvert, and 2) it’s not selfishness that causes me to turn people down or back out of things.

Up until pretty recently, I wasn’t 100% aware of my limits and boundaries {as in, the number of things I can commit to without risking burnout and resentment}, so I’d say “yes” to too many things and then instantly regret it.

The more people I’ve coached, the more it’s becoming clear to me that too many of us are default “yes people” … and we’re struggling to deal with the subsequent exhaustion and resentment that comes with overcommitting.

SO WHY DO WE SAY “YES” SO QUICKLY?

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” – Greg McKeown, author of my new favorite book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

If you’re nodding along and thinking, “This is totally me, I say ‘yes’ to everything,” then I’m challenging you (and me) to consciously start using what Greg McKeown calls the “graceful no.”

Let’s be honest — it probably won’t feel good to most of you to start flat-out saying “no,” especially if you’re naturally a “yes person.”

Instead, make your default answer, “Let me check on something and get back to you.” This breaks the habit of agreeing to things before you have time to really consider if you want and/or have time to do it. Plus, it gives you space to process their request and, if necessary, come up with a graceful “no.”

I have several clients who have made this small shift, and it’s turning their lives around. They have more free time, they feel more focused on a daily basis, and (maybe counter-intuitively) their relationships are better than ever.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STOP SAYING “YES” TO EVERYTHING:

twitter-birdSaying “no” more often = saying “yes” to your life.

You have time, space, and energy to devote to the really important things.

You feel back in control of your time and your life, instead of always feelings reactive, overly busy, and resentful of others for “stealing” your time.

People start to respect you more. Most people worry that saying “no” will turn others off, but actually it makes them respect you more. Kate Northrup put it beautifully in a recent blog: “Saying yes to everything cheapens your yes.”

“We need to learn the slow ‘yes’ and the quick ‘no.’” – Greg McKeown, Essentialism

So who’s willing to take this challenge with me and stop automatically saying “yes” to every request and opportunity that comes your way? Leave a comment below to let me know you’re “in.”

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

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  1. Oh my goodness, I am the QUEEN of finding a gentle way to back out of things. I am also the QUEEN of taking on anything and everything and filling up my plate until I’m about ready to burst. Loved this post today, and I am definitely taking the challenge!

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