The Power of No

One of the greatest luxuries about being an adult is that nobody can tell you what you can't do. Nobody can say "Monica, it's a week night. You shouldn't stay up late working on that stupid business idea because you have to wake up at 5am tomorrow and that's two hours from now." or " Monica, you have a sinus infection. You shouldn't go running tonight, and then go to an absinthe tasting, and then go Salsa Dancing until 3am." It's also one of the most difficult things, at least for me. If there's nobody to tell me what I can't do, I end up doing everything at once.  Especially coming from a small town, the excitement of being invited to three or four events every night is a little overwhelming.

Which is why I am learning that I never HAVE to do anything. Another one of the greatest luxuries of being an adult is the power to say "No." "No," as in: "No, I'd rather not go to your cocktail party/windsurfing/Las Vegas. I would prefer to stay in tonight and read a book."

I think a lot of people forget that they have this basic human right.  You can say "no" to all sorts of things. You can even say "no" to work. You're sick. You're stressed. It's a beautiful sunny day out. You've been working hard all month. Say no to work and take a sick day. That's what they were designed for.

If you work for yourself, you can even say no to a client. "No," as in: "No, I'm not going to build this website for you because I already have a full work schedule. If you'd like, feel free to get on my wait list, but otherwise here's x's number - she's a great web designer also and would be happy to do this for you."

Conversely, you can also say no to social events because work is more meaningful to you. "No," as in: "No, I love hanging out with you but I also have an awesome job and I want to get a good night's sleep so that I can change the world one day at a time."

There's a whole list of other things you can say "No" to.

Say "No" to stress. Why worry? Things will either get done or they won't get done, but being stressed won't help.

Say "No" to your peers putting you down. If somebody says, "Monica, I can't believe it's already June and you don't live on a boat yet," I will reply: "go fry your head in a microwave," as I was taught to say in grade school. I do things in my own time.

Say "No" to people asking for more of your time than you want to give them. Some people are very needy. Just remind them gently that they need to find other friends because you aren't willing to be there for them at all times.

Say "No" to anything that bores you. Say "No" to people who sap your energy. Say "No" to situations that might become awkward. Say "No" to anything or anyone that doesn't challenge you. Say "No" to events that will be fun but that you can't enjoy because your schedule is already overbooked. Say "No" when you are tired. Say "No" when you really just want some alone time.

You never HAVE to do anything. Everything in life is a choice, so follow what excites you and keep growing.