Originally published 4 September 2006.
A few weeks ago, I posted the essay on Saying No. I ran into a situation this weekend where I wasn’t so successful in saying no, and have managed to get myself into a pickle. The funny part is that it is the same clarinetist I wrote about last time. This time I wasn’t able to be direct, and found myself stammering out excuses. So now I’m going to have to write a very direct email today, and I’m not looking forward to that.
Saying no is probably one of the best things that GTD and Flylady have allowed me to do. Before starting on their systems, I was pretty much a yes-person, always saying yes to anything anyone asked me to do, fun or not, because I felt honored to be asked, or felt the opportunity might never come my way again. Unfortunately, when operating in this mode, I also always felt resentful of the demands on my time, and even doing the fun things, wishing I was doing something else.
But it does take practice. Like all new habits, this one also needs to be practiced and it is unreasonable for me to think about never being in the situation of having said yes, or to end up making excuses for why I can’t do something, when the truth is that it just doesn’t fit into my life.
I know at some point someone is going to accuse me of being selfish. Is this system selfish? It might appear that way to the people asking. And to a certain extent, it is selfish, because I am refusing to pull time and energy away from the people and things I have already determined to be important to satisfy someone else’s whims. I maintain that when I say no to something, I am saying yes to something else.