The power of saying no
There are plenty of reasons to say no in life. Some of them are much more important than the reason I said no last week.
Or maybe not.
I decided to drop out of the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) challenge. I just said no to blogging every single day. I’m going back to my schedule of three days a week. (In my previous post, I was already debating this.)
Skipping my first day wasn’t easy. I am not a person who backs out of a commitment, even to myself. Which is why my saying no to this is more important than it might seem.
I struggled a bit against letting that first day go by. But once it did, I felt unshackled. I felt lighter.
Even more important, the writing I’ve done since has just flowed out of me. I’m inspired, I’m having fun, I’m writing things I feel good about.
Saying no is liberating.
This is not a new idea. We all know that saying no is a way of expressing our freedom, our independence. It’s a way of asserting ourselves. I’m just not always very good at it.
I don’t say no easily. I take on everything that interests me — and everything I’m asked to do — and damn the consequences. But that’s not always a healthy decision for anyone, especially myself.
Saying no is empowering.
Instead of being forced to write something every day, just for the sake of writing something, I have the luxury of taking my time. I can write the terrible first draft and come back to it later and edit it so it’s not terrible anymore. I can let things incubate. I can polish and play. I can have fun. I can express myself clearly and creatively.
It’s not just a writing lesson, though. It’s a life lesson.
As I was pondering dropping out of NaBloPoMo, one of my biggest clients called with a rush assignment on a project I’m the exclusive writer on. I said I didn’t think I could pull it off. I didn’t want to overpromise and underdeliver. Could she find another writer to handle one part of the crisis while I helped with another? She agreed that was a good strategy.
There’s a time I would have said yes to the entire project. But instead, I found the voice to say no. It was the right thing to say for everyone involved.
Can we say no to everything in life? No, and we shouldn’t. Sometimes we say yes because it’s polite, or it’s business, or it’s just the thing to do. Saying yes can also open unexpected doors, even if we’ve been standing there pulling against the doorknob trying to keep it shut.
But should we say no to some things? Yes. And I’m getting pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.