What I’m Unapologetically Saying No To.
“I didn’t want to say ‘no’ because I didn’t want people to think I’m not nice. And that, to me, has been the greatest lesson of my life. To recognise that I am solely responsible for it, and not trying to please other people, and not living my life to please other people, but doing what my heart says all the time.” – Oprah Winfrey.
My identity growing up in my childhood, teenage years and early professional career, was the ‘nice girl.’ So much so, that in high school I won the ‘nicest person award’ and the ‘friendliest person award.’ Today, the thought of receiving those awards make me want to cringe. Not so much because of the awards themselves, but because of the meaning behind those awards and the period in my life it represented. I was so consumed by other peoples thoughts and pleasing others, that I was never actually living life for myself.
Fast forward to 2020, and the Lara you see now vs. the Lara 15 years ago, is an entirely different person. Most people would still describe me as being a nice person, or a good person. I am still who I am – a kind and compassionate human being. The difference is, I am no longer a pushover or a people people pleaser. I am no longer living my life for other people. I am now living life for myself.
If you listen to The Boss in Heels Podcast, you would know that one question I ask at the end of every interview is:
I love asking my podcast guests this question, because I love hearing their responses. Saying no is something that many of us have struggled with, yet is one of the most empowering practices you could develop. If you are looking for strategies on how to say no gracefully, you can read my previous post here. in this post, I wanted to share with you 5 things which I am unapologetically saying no to.
I usually receive anywhere from 10-20 coffee requests each week. I am unapologetically saying no to every single one of those requests. There is a difference between meeting my mum or my best friend for a coffee, and saying yes to coffee requests to people I don’t know, or who just want to hang out. These requests categorically fall into one of three groups:
If I said yes to all these coffee requests, it would completely take me away from the important work I need to do. When you factor in the time it takes to get ready, get into your car, drive to the location, meet the person, have a coffee and drive home… you could have easily wasted 3-4 hours of your day. I equally say no to virtual coffees, because these disrupt my workflow and my focused time to work on my important projects.
Meetings can be highly ineffective, especially when there isn’t a clear agenda. The best and most productive kinds of meetings are the ones where there is a clear purpose. If someone requests a meeting without a clear agenda or purpose, I will push back and ask if they can send through what they need in the form of an email. Once the relevant information has been supplied and depending on what needs to be discussed, there can then be time allocated to meet and discuss further.
My schedule and workload has never been busier. Between balancing my demanding corporate career, recording weekly podcasts, writing blog posts, content creation, running a coaching and consulting business… there are some tasks which simply no longer make sense for me to do. The things that are my strengths, or that only I can do (e.g. hosting my podcast) are the tasks that make sense to retain. The tasks that I’m not as good at or that don’t exclusively require me can be outsourced (e.g. editing my podcast). I’m no longer holding onto tasks where it doesn’t make sense.
If you spend some time analysing your calendar, what percentage of tasks are you doing that are actually aligned to your vision? We tend to fill our diaries with meetings, coffees and meaningless tasks, that make us feel busy and important. Take some time to analyse how you are spending your time within each day and week. Are the tasks you are doing actually important? Are they aligned to your vision? Is there a clear purpose behind each action and task? Recognise the difference between being busy and productive.
Whether it is to do with my health, happiness or overall wellbeing, I am no longer saying yes to people or things that aren’t good for me. This includes:
What are some of the things you are unapologetically saying no to? Is saying no something you struggle with? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences, please leave your comments below!