This post is part of my 33-page eBook: 9 Secrets Nurses Need to Master for a Healthy Work-Life Balance.

Want all 9 ‘Secrets’ at once? Download it here.

A while ago, a friend told me ‘No.’

I don’t remember what my request was… I think an ask to help me with a personal project?

In any event, it was her ‘No’ that made an impression on me. It was diplomatic, showed concern and excitement about my request, but also to the point.

It was the best ‘No’ that I had ever heard. And since then, I have been using it ever since. Her quick and thoughtful script is below…

We’ll need to say ‘no’ at times, even though we want to help. And sometimes saying ‘no’ will make us feel like we’re disappointing someone or something that we care about or at least care about the outcome.

So why are we saying ‘no’ then?

Simple… Self-Care.

Now you’ve most likely heard of…

‘The power of yes!’

And saying yes can often lead to many opportunities in life that can produce great things for you, your family, and your career.

But, saying yes to the wrong things and the wrong people will just often leave you exhausted, stressed and forgetting to keep the focus on what’s really important in your life. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve said yes to many things…

Yeses that have kept you busy and burnt out. Yeses that have you resenting those who asked you for help. Yeses that ultimately have led to no purpose or progress in your life. Yeses that have you later regretting it.

Here’s a time when I regretted my ‘yes.’

In Athens a few years ago, I rented a room from an AirBnB host for an extended stay– about 2 months. At one point, my host went out of town for a couple of weeks, and he asked me to welcome other guests for him that would be staying in his spare bedroom. I thought about declining, but later agreed to do it. Afterall, his place was in a prime location and I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers!

Well, his guests arrived in the middle of the night!

And then on subsequent nights they decided to stay out late and I had to let them in the house each time. And on top of that, my host wanted me to be responsible for collecting their payment when they decided to stay longer than first expected. Talk about awkward… having to ask strangers for their money!

I totally regretted taking on this “job” and didn’t receive any benefit from it… Including no good sleep on the nights the guests were there. 

So, I became resentful to my host afterwards. Especially when I didn’t receive a ‘thank you’ at the very least for acting as ‘property manager’ over those days. 

But, I did get a ‘did you get their money?’ Ugh!     

Has something like this ever happened to you? Saying yes to something you later regretted? 

If so, let’s help you limit your yeses to those things that move your personal goals forward. 

Truth be told, I still have some yeses on my plate right now, but lately, they’ve been the type of yeses that have served me as well as those who’ve asked me to contribute to their project or purpose in some way, benefiting my time and space, too. 

So, let’s start that journey of eliminating stress and reclaiming your time as well. 

Let’s Look at the Power of ‘No.’

By saying ‘no’ to a few things, you’ll take the first step in upgrading your life and paying close attention to your own priorities.

Say ‘no’ to things like the following:

  • Your supervisor who asked you to stay another 4 hours, when you’re exhausted, all because someone called in sick (This is not a selfish response… it’s taking care of you!)
  • The dinner invitation from your friend who just drains your energy with negativity.
  • The school PTA who thought it would be just brilliant to nominate you to be president. Excellent!

I’m sure you can add to this list…

So, your first challenge?

You’re going to say ‘no’ to someone else’s invitation for you to help them with their project or goal OR you’re going to say ‘no’ to someone you already said ‘yes’ to.

Scary thought. But trust me, you can do it, and you’ll feel surprisingly better afterwards.

So, get started by completing the following steps:

  1. Make a list of people, projects or events that you want to say ‘no’ to or that you’ve already said ‘yes’ to but DON’T WANT or DON’T HAVE TIME to do? Or simply it WON’T add value to your life in any way. You can also add to this list the items you haven’t sent in an RSVP for yet.
  2. Now pick only one thing on that list. Preferably the least exciting and/or most time consuming. 
  3. Now, call them up and say ‘No.’ Below are some sample scripts that you can use word-for-word. Or, simply tailor them to your needs. (Work though others on your list as you see fit.)

Sample Script #1 – Your supervisor asked if you can cover another shift.

“Hi Mary! I’m so sorry to hear that you don’t have the coverage today. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to cover the shift. But good luck in finding a replacement.”

Sample Script #2 – Someone just asked you to help them with a project or volunteered you to do something. (THIS IS THE ‘NO’ I RECEIVED FROM A FRIEND A WHILE BACK. LOVE IT!)

“Hi Mary! I’m flattered that you thought of me. Right now, I’m swamped with my own projects and won’t have the time to dedicate to your [insert their request here]. But congratulations on starting this! I can’t wait to hear about your progress!”

Sample Script #3 – How to Say ‘No’ after you’ve already said ‘Yes.’

“Hi Mary. Unfortunately, I have to make a change in plans. Due to another commitment (yes, yourself…), I won’t be able to [insert Mary’s request here] at this time. I feel terrible about it, but I know [your project] will be a success in any event. Please let me know how it goes.”

And that’s it!

If the thought of this just terrifies you… and you feel like you’re letting someone down, that’s okay. That’s a normal feeling! You’re allowed.

However, if calling is a bit much for you right now (which is what I highly recommend still), give yourself permission to do it in email or text. You just want to make sure they receive it.

How to Handle the Resistance

Unfortunately, with some of these No’s, you will get resistance. You’ll be asked about your “other” commitments, and sometimes, someone may even try and make you feel guilty about declining. Wow, right!

If this happens. Simply state (or repeat):

Sample Script #4 – How to handle resistance.

“Mary, again, at this time, I just won’t be able to.”

And leave it at that. It’s your prerogative.

You really owe no explanation, especially if you’re giving enough notice (and please give as much notice as possible).

Note: Also, try your best not to cancel at the last minute. Saying ‘No’ also means being responsible about that decision as well. Don’t leave your friend hanging after you agreed to take photos of her on stage tomorrow! That would really suck!

So…

Make that phone call or send that email. Again, this may be a difficult step, but it will be the first step in taking care of you!

Here are some action items:

  • Pick one thing on your prepared list of items to say ‘No’ to. Now, do it!
  • Let me know about in the comments. Did it work for you? What response did you receive after declining? Did anyone give you any resistance? Do you have any tips to share?

This post is part of my 33-page eBook: 9 Secrets Nurses Need to Master for a Healthy Work-Life BalanceWant all 9 ‘Secrets’ at once? Download it here.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, too.

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