The Power of Saying No

learning to say no

I’ve been described as a “go getter” and “enviously motivated” …amongst other things. It’s true. I pretty much feel like I can do it all if I put my mind to it. Other than physical limitations (I am not actually Superwoman) what is there that we cannot do if we put our minds and dedication to it? I’ll tell you, very little and you’ll never regret trying. However, this internal struggle to do it all has taught me one of my biggest lessons, and not the easy way.

Just because I can do it all, doesn’t mean I want to or necessarily should.

That’s a seriously tough pill to swallow and one that I am learning more and more about everyday. Being a working mom only exacerbates this need in me. There is so little time that is not engulfed in work or thinking about work. I want to do ALL THE THINGS with my son and husband that in reality there just isn’t enough time for in a perfect world. I also want to participate in every book club, girls night out, and blogger function that I see come around. Here’s the thing though, if I try to do all of those things… I cannot do any of them really well. That’s another thing about me, I strive for perfection in everything. It took this realization to take a step back and start saying “no”.

Saying “no” meant that I had to back away from things I had committed to. Like a book club that deep inside I knew all along I probably couldn’t commit to. Work related things (I’m a photographer evenings and weekends) obviously stayed, but I am consciously stepping back and scheduling smarter. Work smarter not harder is one of my favorite quotes and I just finally made the connection between all of this and that little saying.

One of the hardest decisions I have made in this revelation was to stop contributing my time to people and things that I wasn’t getting anything back from. One-sided relationships are soul sucking and I am just done. It’s easy to make excuses for people that you deeply want in your life who don’t ever give back. It’s painful to realize that you are wasting your precious (and very limited) time trying to make someone or something more enjoyable than it really is. Admitting that is kind of like admitting defeat, but dammit, so be it. It’s freeing, trust me on this.

I am consciously choosing to do the things that are most impactful and that I get real satisfaction out of. Rushing home to get dinner on the table quickly so that I can meet someone afterwards who I wasn’t really that excited to see anyway? Someone that I had to make the plans with for the 1000th time? Nope. I’d rather spend that time with my kiddo and husband, or do all that so I can go to the gym and feel GOOD about using that time. I have a little over 3 hours a day with my kiddo during the week. If I am going to make it less than that then it had better be WORTH IT.

Do you have a hard time saying no? Has turning things down been easier or harder since becoming a working mom?


  • Monica says:

    great article, this is something I really needed to hear. I feel like I am constantly complaining about our social calendar being overbooked and I find myself more miserable over not having enough time to anything “good enough”… saying no is not a bad thing!
    Monica recently posted..Excuse Me, GwynethMy Profile

  • This is so refreshing to read! It’s so true. I recently said no to the opportunity to teach a college course (in addition to working full time) because there is no way I could do a good job of any of my responsibilities with another epic responsibility.

    I’m in the process of interviewing for a job as well. I’m on the fence of wanting to say no so I don’t have to experience an even greater work load and stress level while my youngest is still in preschool. I’m lucky to have a lot of flexibility in my current position so I can be available to my kids.

    Wish me luck at staying firm in NO.

    See Mom Work Blog
    “All work and no play makes mommy a disgruntled chick.”
    Elle – See Mom Work recently posted..The Allusive Work Life BalanceMy Profile

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