How to Say No

Setting Boundaries with Yourself

Rachel Goding

Time and energy are two things we cannot get back once they’re gone. It’s important to be intentional with where we spend our time and channel our precious energy into people and places where we feel fulfilled.

Maybe you thrive with a busy schedule, and you like to stay busy and productive. However, you must be careful not to stretch yourself too thin and fill up your plate past the point of no return. It pays to say “no” when you are being pulled a million different ways, but this can be a hard thing to do. If you are someone who likes to go out of your comfort zone and take on new experiences at every turn, you may not have a lot of experience saying “no” to people. Turning down experiences can be tough. There is the fear of missing out, feeling like you made the wrong decision, or closed a door that was opened for you. It’s hard to deviate from this mindset when you are juggling whether or not to add another thing to your to-do list. Remember that you are human and can only do so much at once.

Don’t be afraid to take something off your plate and let go of something that no longer serves you. If you feel like you’re overwhelmed with tasks and obligations, take a closer look at everything you’re involved in and be honest with yourself. Not every opportunity is meant to be for the long-term, and ultimately your mental health is the most important. You’re not a failure for setting boundaries and taking a step back.

Some Helpful Phrases to Use

  • I don’t have the bandwidth for that right now.
  • Thank you for thinking of me but I have another commitment.
  • I’m honored you asked me, but I must respectfully decline.
  • I can’t fit this in with my current schedule. 
  • No.

“No” can be a full sentence. Don’t feel like you must sugarcoat your decision. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. It can be as simple as you need time for yourself during the day where you aren’t scheduled to be somewhere.

Doing less means that you can focus more on the work you are already doing and passions that you enjoy. This is easier said than done but carving out time to rest and recharge will set you up for greater success in your career and being more present with loved ones.