Please tell me I’m not the only person who has searched “how to say no” more than once.
(Why, oh why, is it so hard?)
Surprise: I’m a natural people-pleaser, often striving to out-perform and sometimes stretching myself too thin in the process.
But you know what’s worse than saying no? Saying yes to the wrong things, giving yourself stomach ulcers over the growing task list, and letting people down in the long run. If only no were so simple.
My good friend Google tells me that we can take time to choose. This is my first sin. “Yep,” in a quick email back; “You’ve got it!” on the friendly phone call; “Of course,” in the meeting. Quick positivity wins popularity, but at what expense? Perhaps a better default is, “That’s a great idea. Let me think about it and get back to you.” Boom, no promises yet. Give yourself a moment to breathe, check the list first, reassess priorities and then decide. (Thanks, Goog.)
What if we flip our focus? Instead of worrying about the no and the let down and how the world might just end if we stop a task from landing on our plate, what if we think about the absolutely, without-a-doubt, this-is-how-I-should-be-living-out-today yes? The whole process becomes less dreadful and more exciting, doesn’t it?
You see, no matter how much we deny it, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Our time, our energy, our resources are limited materials. Don’t let them vanish with the wrong yes.
The decisions pop up daily, in our minds, in our homes, in our offices. How we fill the hours, spend the money, grow the business, devote the energy, spread the love—it’s up to us. We pick. Sleep in or work out? You choose. Pray or worry? You choose. Communicate or lock it up? You choose.
The Best Choice
I want to choose better. I don’t want to say yes out of fear or guilt or favor. I want to say yes because it’s the best choice for me and for the people I serve, whether I’m wearing sweat pants or suit pants. When we choose better yes’s, the no’s land more easily where they should.
Choosing well takes gumption and grace and, most of all, guts. It takes courage and purpose and intention, with a bold-yet-gentle undercurrent. And, it takes practice—plenty of it.
Choose real. Choose joy. Choose hope. Choose Him for direction.
Choose well, my friends.