Somehow, I manage to get myself into an excessive pile of situations where the same two things happen every time: I’m doing something for someone else, and all the while I’m wishing I wasn’t.
Now, before you get all non-profit on me, I know it’s important to help other people. And you can’t say no to everything, or you’ll be considered a hermit. I understand. I’m not talking about a little volunteering here and a little helping-out-a-friend there. I’m talking about an extreme excess of involvement and helpfulness in other people’s events that makes me cranky, and strips me of what should be a joyful volunteering spirit.
So how does this happen? I’ve discovered that the underlying problem is that I have trouble saying “no.” Simple right? Just start saying “no” more often. Sigh, if only.
Because I have been unable to say “no” to organizing, planning, attending, or hosting things when asked, I’ve gotten myself into the following things in the last month alone:
- Planning the mother’s day celebrations for each of my three moms. Do I not have siblings who could have helped?
- Signing up for 10 weeks of belly dancing lessons. Hello! I don’t want to jiggle my belly around in public!
- Getting a primary role on a gala planning committee. For 400 guests.
- Chairing a Christmas committee. For 120 employees. For next Christmas. It’s May. I want to think about tulips, not eggnog.
- Training someone new to do my old job, while I ignore my new responsibilities.
- Planning a golf tournament. For 160 executive women. I hate golf.
- Working a free modeling gig for a trunk show.
- Attending an evening networking session to take care of someone else’s clients.
- Meeting someone I don’t care to meet for coffee for “networking.”
- Attending a baby shower. All showers are boring.
This list isn’t meant to be one giant rant about my life…really, I like being busy. And I feel good when I can help out friends and family, and all of these things are important events. But sometimes, I’d like to be able to say no, then proceed to sit quietly at home and write. That’s it! It’s not outrageous to want to do that, it just means I have to learn how and when to say “No, I can’t do that for you.”
Here’s what I’m trying to apply, based on what I found in The Confident Woman. If you have the same chronic overcommitment problem that I do, I hope it will help you as well.
How to Say “NO” (politely, without feeling guilty)
1. Remember that “Yes” should never be your first response.
2. Show appreciation for the invitation. (“I’m so glad you thought of me!”)
3. Tell the inviter that you will think about it and get back to them, within a specified time-frame.
4. Think about it.
5. Make a decision -and don’t allow guilt to decide for you.
6. Let the inviter know of your decision.
7. Stick to your choice!
8. Reward yourself for a job well done. Or well not done, as the case may be.
Go ahead, try it; ask me to do something for you. I’m ready for some practice!