Five years ago, Shonda Rhimes wrote a book about her year of YES. I’m all for saying yes to things that are important rather than making excuses for why they can’t be done. As I enter my 46th trip around the sun, I’ve decided to take the idea and change it up a bit and make it my year of saying NO.
This doesn’t mean that I’m going to change into someone who never wants to do anything or try new things. For me, the idea of doing a year of saying no is all about setting hard boundaries and not being afraid of hurt feelings or disappointment of other people. As much as I’ve made improvements on establishing boundaries, there are some that aren’t as firm as I’d like them to be.
It’ll be interesting on many fronts. I’m not one to say no to a challenge. The bigger the issue, the more I want to solve it. This is true even when I know that I have no business getting caught up in the task because I’ve got my own stuff to work on.
I also don’t like confrontation, so instead of saying no, I’ll say yes and be mad at myself as for doing it. Like I said, I’ve gotten better, but there is still work to be done. I realize that my agree-ability often works for everyone but me and I’d like to change that.
I’m not sure what will be more challenging, saying no on a professional front or on a personal front. To be honest, I feel like I’ve done more work on getting comfortable saying no in my personal life than in my professional life. It’s almost like it was the testing ground. I’m proud to report that as much as I was afraid that setting boundaries and saying no was going negatively impact my relationships, I think it actually made them stronger. Those who aren’t comfortable with my boundaries aren’t a big part of my life anymore.
On a professional level, I think it will be a bit more work because I was raised to always go above and beyond. Growing up with immigrant, Black parents, I was always told that I had to work ten times harder than my White counterparts in order to succeed. I was watching the documentary She Did That on Netflix last week. It highlights the success of Black female entrepreneurs in the US and it’s a common script that many Black parents followed. While I understand the need for giving us a heads up that we don’t all have the same opportunities, I wonder about the different ways that belief has negatively impacted us. If someone’s done a study, point me in that direction, I would love to read the findings!
Regardless of the root cause, I’d like to work on getting more comfortable saying no on all fronts. I know logically that no can be a full and complete sentence. I know that when I start explaining why I said no, I run the risk of talking myself into saying yes. I have to remind myself that just because I’m capable of doing something, it doesn’t mean I have to do it if it is going to take me away from achieving the goals that are important to me.
It’s taken some time, but I’m realizing that self-care goes beyond meditation, making time for yoga and treating myself to the occasional massage. Self-care is also about getting clear on priorities and setting boundaries. I’m looking forward to seeing how this year of saying no goes. I promise to report back 😉