noOne of the biggest barriers to reaching our fullest potential is how we use our time.

Without mindfulness, it can be easy to spend our days, weeks, years, being busy, but left wondering if our busyness is devoted to the activities that are really making a difference.

Yet, there is a strategy we can use to overcome this barrier:

Learning to say no!

Learning to say no is one way to control your time, to focus on activities that really make a difference, to create healthy boundaries, and to maintain our energy for the important work you do.

Below are four tips to help you say no:

1.  Practice saying no.  Have someone you trust ask you hypothetical requests, and practice saying no to these requests in various ways.  Practice until it feel natural.

2.  Pause.  When someone requests something of you, rather than immediately say yes, give yourself the time needed to find your answer.  Consider getting into the habit of telling the person you will need to get back to him or her.  Whenever I say yes too quickly, I often get myself into trouble!  Give yourself the time you need to know your own truth.

3.  Feel it.  Where do you feel your yes or no?  When I feel yes, often I feel an opening in my chest that feels like taking a deep breath.  With a no, I often get a slight pain in my stomach.  Whenever I feel this, I know it’s my internal sign of no.  If I say yes, when I feel my no, I am betraying myself.  When someone asks a request of you, if you are not sure of the answer, spend time feeling it.

4.  Say a practice no statement.  If no is your truthful answer, use one of your practiced no statements.  It becomes easier to say no if you have a strategy you can use, or fall back on when you need it.

Here are some no statements you can use:

1.  Thank you, but I’ve made a commitment to myself to _______ (fill in the blank) so I will have to say no to your request.
2.  Thank you for the request, I will need to get back to you.
3.  I can’t right now, but you can contact me (provide a specific time) and I can let you know if my status has changed.
4.  No thank you.
5.  No.

Do you have ways of saying no?  Add them to the comments below.