While I like to think that my expertise is around careers and productivity, more than one client has asked for my help around setting boundaries and working on how to say no.
I joke that I came out of the womb saying no and protecting boundaries.
For the last two years, I’ve been working 50 hour weeks. I manage a lab during the day and I teach sociology, too. Plus, I have been building a business, and creating weekly newsletters.
What I haven’t been doing: sleeping in on the weekends, watching Real Housewife marathons, spending a ton of time with friends, going out after work on Fridays.
If you struggle to say no, you’re not alone.
Guilt, fear of missing out, or more likely, not feeling confident enough to push back keeps people from spending time on what matters to them.
Instead, they end up committed to people and things that don’t really feed or nuture them.
The secret to saying “No” and meaning it is to get crystal clear on what matters to you and to protect that vision.
How do YOU want to spend your time?
What do you want to make happen for yourself in the next 6 months?
Are you willing to set some boundaries around your time and energy to make progress?
You don’t have to say yes to everything, especially if it doesn’t serve your broader vision for yourself.
Put your best foot forward
People who say that they have a hard time setting boundaries tend to consider themselves people-pleasers.
They’re convinced that they are more focused on making other people happy than your own happiness.
Sorry, but I’m I calling B.S. on that.
Setting boundaries and saying no when something doesn’t feel right is part of showing up – at work and in personal relationships.
Being honest and setting reasonable expectations is key to my work.
People are pleased when their co-workers and employers are straightforward and their friends are honest.
If you’re convinced that resentment and feeling over burdened is worth it to make people happy, think about how you could really best serve those people and those relationships. It’s possible that communicating boundaries will help
To practice, start small.
I always say, you don’t need to start saying “No!” to your boss or close friend.
I suggest that you practice saying no in small ways – send back coffee that comes with cream when you ordered “black,” food that doesn’t come the right way, or stuff you bought online that isn’t what you hoped for.
All of this can be done graciously and kindly.
And as you gain confidence, you can use your boundary setting skills with other people and in other contexts!
None of this is to say you can never have a social life or make commitments that serve others. But if you truly feel like you’re lacking boundaries that allow you to pursue your life as you’ve envisioned it, don’t you owe it to yourself to say “no” to others and “Yes!” to yourself just a little bit more?