The Value of Saying No

By Jimmy Warden

Yes overload

Do you ever find yourself with too much on your plate? Trying to accomplish 12 tasks in a day? Feeling like you have no time for yourself? If so, the chances are you have a problem saying a two-letter word.


As Ryan Holiday says: “When you say yes to something, it means you’re saying no to something else.” And because you’re a good person, you say yes to a lot.

The hard part about saying yes to too much is you get run down and burnt out.

As a result, you can’t do the things you want to do: be with loved ones, exercise, work on personal projects, find quiet time alone. Essentially, you can’t take care of yourself. And when your self-care suffers, you aren’t able to be your best. And when you aren’t your best, everyone suffers. You and everyone you interact with on a daily basis.

Why is it so hard to say no?

Saying no is difficult because you feel like you’re letting someone down. For example, your boss at work asks you to be part of a hiring committee. You know the interview process is going to be long and drawn out. Deep down, you don’t want to do it. But you say yes anyway. You want to be seen as helpful. Reliable. And you’d rather your boss not have anything bad to say about you.

Who are you letting down by saying yes?

Your family, because you’re coming home from work with greater stress.

Who else are you letting down?

Yourself. You told yourself you wanted to say no. You knew you didn’t want to do it. Yet you did it anyway.

That decision causes pain in the form of regret and guilt. Two forms of pain that lead to agony and angst.

No one wants to live that way.

The value of saying no

As Paul Chek once said: “Your yes has no value until you learn how to say no.” Chek brings up a counterpoint to Holiday’s quote about saying yes.

Saying no means your yes has more value.

Why is that?

You’ll attend to tasks better. You’ll have a manageable workload. You’ll have enough mental and physical energy to exert yourself during that work. You’ll have time for yourself. You’ll have time for loved ones. And the best part is, people won’t bother you as much to do things for them because they’ll think your answer is no.

How to get better at saying no


It’s not easy, but that’s the only way. Start small by saying no to things you’ve said yes to in the past. That shift swings dynamics in your favor. It will shock those that ask a lot of you, but it will be a freeing feeling.

After you do it once, do it again. Bask in the sensation. Bask in the fact you are taking ownership of your life. Who knows. Once you start, you might not be able to stop.

So what do you have to lose? Besides yourself.

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