Meet Your New Favorite Word: NO

As part of our virtual book club series, our second book is called The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. Ever heard of a few shows called Gray’s Anatomy and Scandal?! Shonda is the lead writer and mastermind behind both these hit shows!

In this book, she goes into great detail about how to lean into new situations, say yes to taking on new challenges, and specific steps on how to conquer all your deepest fears.

Everything about this book resonated with me and had me saying YES SHONDA, you are absolutely right… until it hit me: I am living in the exact opposite year of what she is trying to convince us to partake in.

While I took so much away from the read, I often found myself thinking: saying “yes!” isn’t what I need in my life right now…. Speaking for myself here, the majority of the time, I need to say NO more often.

No to doing extra work for minimal or no compensation, no to traveling for work for an issue that can be resolved over a call, no to a new opportunity that does not align with my vision, no to being responsible for bringing homemade-organic-sugar-free snacks (seriously, that’s a THING!) every week at my daughter’s school, no to overbooking our family on the weekends... just NO.

Personally, what I’ve found the most discomfort with saying NO is this: letting other people down.  So, this year I set out to do something similar to Shonda’s but slightly (okay... completely) opposite then hers.

2017-2018 has been the phase of my life where I started saying NO more often. Since then, I have turned down ~25 jobs in order to pursue, launch, and grow my heart and soul of RX Ashlee. I also started saying no to things I just simply didn’t want to do.

It’s completely changed the way I operate my business, sure – but it’s also changed:

  • My marriage - we are the strongest and most connected we’ve ever been

  • My energy - I actually look forward to things I say ‘yes’ to now

  • My work - I absolutely LOVE doing what I am doing and it is showing through all of the new successes my clients are having in their careers

In this blog, we’ll be getting into why saying NO can help you succeed, how to set personal and professional boundaries, and when you should actually be saying YES – so keep reading!

Say Yes… Selectively!

If you’ve been keeping up with me lately, you know that my motto is: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” To me, that motto is all about pushing yourself and agreeing to things that challenge you and get you to grow in ways you’ve never imagined.

HOWEVER, saying yes to EVERYTHING and doing EVERYTHING is not the most optimal approach. Saying yes to “doing it all” will lead you down a direct path to burnout. I’ve seen this happen time and time again.

Here’s the simple truth: you do not need to do it all.

Ya hear me? You don’t need to commit to EVERYTHING.

So, what exactly should you say yes to?

My two secrets to successfully saying YES to anything are ensuring that strategy and intention are behind every single YES you commit to.

That’s why you should not only get comfortable with saying no, but you need to remove the YES from your default and automatic response.

How to say YES to the right things

Let’s be real here, you do have to add in extra work for the big payoff – and that may mean saying Yes a few extra times. However, being intentional with your time and energy by saying No to the RIGHT things will get you to where you want to go…. Eventually. I promise!

Naturally, I’ve put together a list of things you can do to help guide you along the righteous Yes path without ending up in a world of stress and regrets.

  1. Create your own priorities: It does not matter what the person sitting next to you or your next door neighbor or your sister or colleague is doing. You have to say Yes to the things that align with your own personal and professional priorities.

  2. Doing MORE is not ALWAYS better: You don’t have to be president of 10 organizations or launch five different businesses. Say No to the things that may stretch you too thin and do not align with your end goal.

  3. Network Strategically: You don’t have to be everywhere at all times. Only participate in organizations, events, conferences, seminars that you feel will elevate your priorities and align with your vision and say No to everything else.

  4. And if you are listening to our podcast, you will know this one means SO much to me: Define What Success Means to You: Come up with your own definition of what success looks like and say yes to things that will get you closer to that. Everyone has a different definition of success; that’s why you can never compare yourself to someone else.

How to Say No Without Sounding Rude

It’s long past time to stop buffering, which is exactly what asking yourself “will saying no make me seem rude or unprofessional?” is doing.

Think about it this way: what’s the one thing we’re all strapped for?

Time. Time is the one thing we are ALL limited on.

That means that, no matter what else is going on, you need to be spending your time wisely and strategically. If you have gone through the steps I outlined above, and strategically thought about the thing you have to decide yes or no on, you should be able to decide whether or not it’s worth your time.

Ask yourself:

  • Will saying yes to this event bring me closer to my end goal?

  • Does saying yes to this event align with my vision?

  • Does saying yes to this experience allow me to gain a solid networking opportunity?

  • Does saying yes to this situation remove more time away from my family?

  • How much time away from my family am I willing to spend?

If you’ve come across more negative responses than positive ones, it’s really not a matter of “coming across as rude.” It’s a matter of your time and priorities, and other people’s perceptions of you don’t get factored into that.

Simply respond with “Thank you for inviting me, but I am committed to other events/priorities during this time.” and move along to your own priorities. #byefelicia

How to Set Work Boundaries if You’re Already a “Yes” Person

Setting expectations before AND during a position is critical to your own personal satisfaction and your level of success in any role. However, the lines can sometimes get blurred (especially if you are an awesome employee - the better you are the more work will get passed to you) and you may have suddenly found yourself doing 20 extra things that are completely outside your job description.

If you are FEELING burned out or say YES too often, think about this: FEELING like you need to do more outside of your immediate job responsibilities might just be that… A FEELING.

To think more critically about this type of situation, ask yourself:

  • Is anyone requiring you to do projects you are willingly taking on?

  • Is someone forcing you to go an event that you do not HAVE to commit to?

  • Is someone forcing you to respond to emails after work hours?

To all of these questions, the answer is most likely No. It might be different if you are trying to go for promotion or get a raise, so remember: Everyone has different priorities, so ask yourself, what are yours?

Again, the handy “I am committed to other events/priorities during this time,” can work perfectly to help you set up boundaries. And if you’re really worried about people thinking you’re not a hard worker, you can always offer to help find the right person for the task or train them on how to do it themselves ;)