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The Importance of Saying “No”

“Don’t overcommit.” You’ve probably been told this before – when you went to college, when you started your first job and your post-college life, or any time in between. It’s good advice, since the more things you commit to doing, the less time and energy you’ll be able to spend on any of them. Whether it’s joining too many clubs your first year of college, or overextending yourself after graduation, or even in a new job. It’s easy to say “yes” every time someone asks you to do something without taking time to reflect on your abilities to follow through.

  It can be hard to say “no” when a friend or coworker asks for help, or asks you to take on an additional commitment. Declining can make you feel guilty or like you’re letting them down, so instead you agree, only to find later on that you just don’t have the time, resources, or abilities to complete the task on top of your other responsibilities. But you shouldn’t feel guilty – just because you can’t help doesn’t mean you don’t care, or that you don’t want to help. It only means that you don’t have the time or resources, and that’s perfectly okay!

  That’s why it’s so important to take the time to consider each request or opportunity before making a decision. When your friend invites you to join a new club or activity, for example, stop to think about your schedule and your other commitments. Do you have the time to devote to the activity? Will attending club meetings or activities interfere with the time you need to finish your homework or prepare for class or work? It’s okay to say “no” if you determine that you just don’t have the time.

And don’t forget to take time for yourself! This can be hard to do when you’re overcommitted, especially to the point that your entire day is planned out just so you can get everything done. Being able to take some time away from your commitments to relax and do something fun, even for just a little bit at the end of the day, is incredibly important for your mental and physical health. Taking time to destress, or even just getting enough sleep, can be difficult to do when you’ve taken on too many projects or commitments and struggle to fit them all into your schedule.

  To avoid this, really stop and think about your priorities, and which commitments are most important to you. It’s hard to turn someone down, or to give up an activity or a project that you enjoy doing in order to take on something more important, but trying to do too many things usually leads to being unable to do any of them to the best of your abilities.

  One of the best things you can do for yourself – for your schedule, your mental health, and your other commitments – is how to say “no” when someone asks something of you, without feeling guilty about it. Most importantly, being able to say “no” to some projects means that you’ll be able to say “yes” when it matters, and really mean it.