When Was the Last Time You Said ‘No’?

posted by Andrea | 09/26/2012

It’s THAT time of year when everyone is looking for volunteers, extra committee members, chaperons, helpers, leaders, etc. etc. If you haven’t been bombarded with these requests yet, it’s bound to happen some time in the next month.

Fall and back-to-school season is often the time of year when every church/school/community group starts up again for the year… and they all need committee members, volunteers, leaders, helpers, drivers, snack-bringers, etc.

And as you know, it’s often extremely difficult to say ‘no’, especially since all these groups are so well-meaning and worth-while.

I’ve struggled with saying no in the past {and I still struggle almost every time I’m asked to join a new committee} but I’m getting better. I already said no to one request this fall… and I didn’t even feel guilty because I knew I wouldn’t have a lot to contribute to that particular organization.

I also said no to another group just because it meets on Saturdays, and that’s currently the ONLY full day I have to get things done around the house and on my blog since Dave is home.

Even though it was difficult for me to muster up the courage to actually say no (I did it via email!) I’m sure glad I did.

Over the past several months since Nora was born, I’ve found that I definitely can’t do as much as I could before. My “extra time” is limited {and sometimes non-existent} so I’ve been ruthless with what I do and don’t make time for.

Dave’s been working hard to limit his commitments as well — and we’re both much happier and less stressed because of it.

My Challenge For You = Just Say NO!

Say NO to {some of the} requests to volunteer

Say NO to {some} committees and groups

Say NO to {some} of the family and friends who always want “just one more thing”

Say NO to activities and events you don’t want to be part of

Say NO to excessive holiday busyness

Say NO to  your kids when they ask to have yet another friend over after a very busy week

Say NO to the well-meaning sales person that interrupts your dinner

Say NO to the phone call that can just go to voice mail

Say NO to your to-do list {just this once} and take a few extra minutes to relax

Obviously I don’t think you should say no to every request. I personally feel that we should all donate our time, talents, money, etc. for causes and organizations in need.

However I can’t say yes to everything, and you shouldn’t either — after all, there are only so many hours in a day.

Dave and I are still very involved in his school and our church, but we’re simply more selective with HOW we are involved. We take a bit more time to think about requests for our time and evaluate if it’s really something we can afford to spend time on or if we need to say no.

We’ve paid our dues and been super involved in church, school, and community for the past 6 years. Now we’re taking a back seat and saying “no” every once in a while.

And you know what… it feels pretty good! 

When was the last time you said no?

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12 comments

  1. Heidi

    09/26/2012

    This is good advise but to be taken with a grain of salt. I am a Girl Scout leader and struggling to get the parents of the girls in my troops (I lead two of them) to help out, even in small ways such as staying at the meeting for one hour to help the girls with a craft project. My thoughts are it’s good to say no, but make sure that when you say no you are not expecting someone else to do it for you. If you say no, you also have to be content if the activity, event, etc does not happen because of lack of volunteers. And sometimes that’s ok too. Just don’t say no and then be first in line to critize that things don’t happen!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good point Heidi,
    I never thought of it that way — but yes, if you’re going to turn down a volunteer or leadership opportunity, then you most certainly should not complain about the way that organization is run! If I cared that much about something, I wouldn’t say “no” in the first place… but I know no everyone is like me (or you!)

    [Reply]

  2. Stacey

    09/26/2012

    Heidi, well said! Thank you!

    Andrea, I’m glad you included the (some) in your first three lines of the challenge. If everyone volunteered somewhere for something, there hopefully would be a better balance for more people. So often 20% of the people do 80% off the work!

    I’m a firm believer in that it’s okay to let some programs die if there are not a enough volunteers (Family Fun Night at school comes to mind!), but if everyone says “no” and still expects good programming for our youth (like in Heidi’s case) then we have a problem.

    For everything there is a season, and some seasons in life mean individuals have more time to say “yes” to leading Sunday School or hosting a small group while other seasons mean the same individuals must say “no” to those areas of service but maybe “yes” to watching someone else’s younger child so that that person can volunteer to lead scouts or perhaps “yes” to doing administrative work from home for a program while children are sleeping or playing.

    I’m glad you and Dave are still involved in some things but have been able and willing to say no to others. Again, to everything a season!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Stacey — I agree with you (and Heidi)

    For the first 6 years of our marriage, Dave and I were in that 20% who did everything — then we had a baby and felt totally burnt out. We probably should have said “no” more often even before Nora arrived, but a new (fussy) baby was definitely the last straw that forced us to start saying no!

    I’m sure that once we’re finished with the baby stage, we’ll be refreshed and ready to go for lots more church and community involvement!

    [Reply]

  3. Martina

    09/26/2012

    We said yes to a lot of things volunteering etc…and nobody ever took us up on it. But we still say no to a lot of things that aren’t related to volunteering, we say now to Halloween, while i do not condemn anybody who celebrates, we as a family choose not to for various reasons. We also said now this year to a 12 hour road trip to see family for Thanksgiving because we knew that most of the family would stay only 2 hours to visit with us, and nobody would take off some time to spend with us before/after Thanksgiving. Not only did this two No’s safe us a lot of stress on preparing and traveling, but also give us time to really enjoy Christmas this year.

    [Reply]

  4. Cherie

    09/26/2012

    I have to learn to balance saying no at this point in my life. I am quick to say no to friends but not so quick to family related events.

    http://enduringfaithministry.wordpress.com

    [Reply]

  5. Shaunna@mamas13minutemile

    09/26/2012

    Really struggling with balance in my life but working on it! Thanks for this post! :)

    [Reply]

  6. Heather@Creative Family Moments

    09/26/2012

    We’re finding that as the kids get older it gets harder… a constant struggle to find balance!

    [Reply]

  7. sarah

    09/26/2012

    Being able to say No when you need to is so very important, on the flip side being able to say Yes when you can is equally valuable. I’m coming out of a season of No 99% of the time and entering into a more balanced yes/no ratio. I believe it has to do with your season in life. I have 2 elementary age school kids and work part time so there is still space for some extras but not for nothing I did find a way for some of my volunteering time to be within my work – so kudos to me! I’m definitely stretching my self but not beyond my capabilities. And that is the ticket right there we all have to know what we are capable of in order to stretch ourselves but not burn ourselves out! If your in a season of 99% No and 1% yes that’s ok but know it won’t last forever and if your in a 80% yes 20% no I have several things for you ;)
    Embrace it!

    [Reply]

  8. Gayle

    09/27/2012

    This might be the most difficult task ever assigned …….saying no is not an easy thing to do. I am working on it. I find that failure to do so leads to a VERY TIRED me. Thanks for the reminder :)

    [Reply]

  9. Nasreen Fynewever

    09/28/2012

    Great post and good conversation in the comment section. Balance is tough to achieve and maintain for sure! I believe that being part of communities require. yes answers sometimes, but I concur with the original message of your post too. Take a quick peak at my “donut” challenge from Labor Day Weekend, which just happens to ping-back to this site. :). http://tinyurl.com/Fyneweverdonuts

    [Reply]

    Nasreen Fynewever Reply:

    “Donut” challenge link that actually works, my apologies.
    http://nasreenfynewever.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/make-donut-holes-for-real/

    [Reply]

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