Simplify Life: Say “No”

By Katie Corbett

Like many, I enjoy being helpful. There comes a point, however, when my helpfulness to others isn’t helpful to me. I get to a point where I feel like I’m doing things because I feel obligated. I have learned that it is better to simplify my life in order to make the most impact.

As Matthew Kelly suggests in “Perfectly Yourself,” saying no to commitments can be one way to get simplicity in your life. I have found learning to say no to be liberating, because it helps me select what is most important to me and do that. Also, when I say no to one thing, it leaves open space for something better to come along.

Some questions I ask to evaluate opportunities are:

• How does this opportunity align with my personal or professional goals?
• What about this opportunity intrigues me?
• Is there anything about this opportunity that I’m unsure or not excited about? Why?
• What amount of time, energy and/or other resources am I willing to commit?
• Do I like the people I will be working with on this project?
• What does successful project completion look like to me?
• In what ways will I evaluate this project along the way to ensure it is in line with my expectations?
• What will I need to give up or change in order to make room for this project in my life?
• What are my deal-breakers?
• Why do I think I’m the best person to carry out this project?

Asking these questions helps me narrow down what I am and am not willing to commit to taking on. Keeping my own priorities in mind helps me evaluate opportunities and say yes to those I truly want, and no to those that don’t serve me well. I’ve learned that if you think a project is going to be a total headache, it probably will, so best get out while you still can.

Leaving in the midst of a project can be one of the hardest things you have to do. I have needed to back out on a few occasions, either because my circumstances changed or because the project turned out to be dramatically different than I expected. I have found that if backing out is done with grace, kindness and good will to those still involved, everyone will understand and feelings will be less likely to get hurt. And after the hard work of being honest with yourself and others about what you can handle, you will find room in your life for what you truly enjoy.

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