What's Behind Saying "No"?
Recently, people have been talking about how to say "no" to potential connections like coffee invites or phone intros so you can stay focused on what you're doing.
Saying "no" to possibilities - for work, collaboration, friendship, etc. - may limit our growth, but our busy calendars limit our time, leaving little choice but to filter options.
"No" may be a symptom of a greater underlying problem - a lack of boundaries.
Defining What's "Enough"
We all need boundaries, in terms of defining what is "enough" for us. This goes beyond meetings to our work too. Going past the point of "enough" can be personally detrimental.
Do you know when you have worked enough and need to stop? Do you know when your calendar is getting too filled and you need to stop adding to it? Knowing when to stop gives you the opportunity for a break, for alone time or an outing with someone. Now, saying "no" is less a reaction and more a conscious response.
On the other hand, when you don't define what's enough for you, the prefix, "over", gets used a lot. You feel:
The list goes on. If you don't know your boundary, it gets defined for you, and you only learn of it after the fact. Then, you have to work a little harder to fix it.
How To Set Boundaries
Defining boundaries starts with saying "yes" to yourself.
Look at your calendar and note how many items represent what you really want to do versus what you're doing for others (employer, business partner, colleague, etc.). Take an upcoming week and for each day, count the items that are for "yourself" and items that are for "others". On those days when items for "others" are greater than items for "yourself", either remove one of the "others" items or add a "yourself" item.
This simple action allows you to define personal balance very specifically, prioritizing your interests and how you want to most want to spend your time. It's your time after all, even if you're renting it to an employer or client. How are you going to enjoy it?
Balance = Energy
Now, if someone invites you for a coffee or phone intro, instead of saying "no" outright because you're busy, you can make an intentional decision based on how you want to balance your day or week. You'll feel more energized either way, because you're planning by saying "yes" to the things you care about. Sometimes that's work you want to focus on and other times it's new connections you hope to pursue.
Acting from a place of personal balance is additive, because regret, guilt, or "should" don't play into your decision. Saying "no" or "yes" is no longer an opportunity cost, it's just an opportunity.
What boundaries have you set for yourself? Have you defined "enough" for your work, meetings, personal time?
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