17. It’s okay to say “No”. “No” is a complete sentence – it does not require justification or explanation.”
I’ve spent a lot of my 20s burned out, overworked, and unreasonably busy, and most of it can be attributed to my deep-rooted desire to please everyone, which meant I said yes to so many things to so many people. This was a big part of why I felt unfulfilled for awhile – because I had – at one point – neglected myself completely; I stopped doing things that made me happy. I just didn’t…have time. Until I genuinely realized this (because it’s easier said than done): you can’t please everyone. Trying to do this only leads to unhappiness, besides the fact that it’s unfeasible! So, I learned how to say no kindly but unapologetically. After all, spreading yourself out too thin compromises the quality of all the things you agree to, so why not say yes to a few things where you can commit 100% instead of saying yes to everything in which you can only give 50% or less? Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, eloquently encapsulates this when he wrote:
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.
So next time you’re tempted to say yes to everything coming your way – “Can you help me with this project?” “Can you help plan my party?” “Can you join our meetings?” “Do you want to go to Hawaii?” – think about your priorities, and see if your decision to do something aligns with those priorities. If not, just say no. Because that’s okay. Learning this after realizing I can’t please everyone has definitely decluttered my life and has resorted my focus on the things that personally matter most. So, no more striving to please everyone, only God.
Feeling free at Fukuoka, Japan