Say Yes to No
“Yes, I will be there.” I will be there for work, family, friends, my son, my husband and oh, myself! Life at times can feel exactly like a meme I’ve seen on social media of Cruella Deville driving erratically with the caption: “Me trying to have a social life, pay bills, and drink enough water.” It’s comical, sad and true.
We live in a society of yes. We feel a strange intrinsic need to be all places at all times. Our community has an incredible event culture, and in my line of work, networking is king. It’s hard to turn down opportunities when time is money. However, time also is precious and we get such few moments with family, or for ourselves, or to call that friend you have been meaning to call for the last three months.
I have a personal rule of not being away from my toddler son more than two nights in a row if it can be helped. Many days, I leave the house prior to him waking up, and if I have evening events, I might not see him for a few days, which is tough on a mama who likes to be home to put him to sleep. In order to be there for him in a way that fulfills me, I am required to give the occasional “no.” I am fortunate to have a great team of people with whom I can share the responsibility of working or attending events. We all divide and conquer!
I recognize that many of us don’t have that option, and for any of us, it can quickly feel like we are buried in commitments.
Even if your organization or position is structured in such a way that you can’t share responsibilities, it’s incredibly important to set boundaries early on and establish the value of your time. It’s physically impossible to make an appearance at every event, and the average attendee is not going to look around and recognize you aren’t there unless you committed to be there. In fact, science is now showing us that saying “no” can increase productivity and mental health.
The people pleaser in us can easily get swayed back to too many commitments, but the truth of the matter is, as pointed out in a recent Forbes article, “Three Reasons You Need to Say ‘No’ More Often,” you are responsible for setting your own boundaries. You are NOT responsible for anyone else’s reactions (except maybe your boss, but if you and your boss are not on the same page about your boundaries and what you bring to the table, then it might be time for a new boss or to become your own).
And lastly, successful people know how to say no. You’re not letting anyone down by turning away an opportunity when it’s just not the right fit for you. The only person being let down when you say yes to something you wish you didn’t have to, is you.
Jennifer Sugarman, President and CEO of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce, is a busy working Millennial mom to son, Emmett. She formed the Cocoa Beach Chamber’s Young Professionals Group in 2016, currently serves on the board for United Way of Brevard and is an active member in Brevard County’s business community.