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NVR Blog

How to Say NO

No Vacation Required

Being able to say NO is a key part of paving the way for change. How can you start down a fresh avenue if you keep doing things the way you always have? How can you welcome in something new if you don't create the space for it?

The other day, we were catching up with a friend. While we were hanging out, a woman texted him to cancel a first date they had planned.

He was irritated.

We told him he was lucky.

With that seemingly odd response, let's jump right into our first "how to say NO" tip!

#1: Say NO as soon as you feel it.

This is how we explained to our (now doubly irritated) buddy why he should be happy that his potential date cancelled. Why waste your time going through the motions of something that's not going to work out?

As we tell people often, a "positive NO" the moment you feel it can be a very rewarding and freeing feeling. 

And boy-oh-boy, do we ever know something about that. In honor of 10 years of No Vacation Required living, we've been working hard to right-size our world by acknowledging that too much of a good thing is too much of something.

As we always say, you can't roll in the new if you don't make space for it.

Say NO. Swiftly. With postiivity.

#2: Schedule everything.

We've individually and as a couple started blocking out the time we need for everything – work obligations (of course), exercising, cleaning, errands, down time. Everything.

When you block off your time, it's easy to say no because you are busy. Your calendar tells you so. 

On a recent trip to Los Angeles we got a lot of business done, but we also had loads of time for fun. We hiked a lot, we went to a concert, we toured an incredible museum, we enjoyed our favorite hotel, and we caught up with friends. Had we not blocked time for these things, we could easily get completely wrapped up in out consulting work.

#3: Take time to think.

We are not shy about taking a beat to consider whether or not something will work. Our life is quite a jigsaw puzzle, and it requires that we be extremely mindful about what we get ourselves into (or not into). With often back-to-back-to-back assignments/projects, we have to first consider how we can make things work in a way that keeps us sane and that doesn't diminish our ability to deliver on the exceptional standard of work we promise our clients.

We take a lot of time to think and to plot.

A good first step for people struggling to say NO, is to say MAYBE. We used to say MAYBE a lot. Now that our YES, NO, and MAYBE muscles are pretty toned, we're able to be much more swift about skipping MAYBE and going right to one of the other options. Nonetheless, saying MAYBE is a hell of a lot better than saying YES and then having to back out.

Which brings me to...

#4: Stop viewing NO as selfish.

Guilt is often behind why people say YES more than want to. It's not selfish to say NO. Remember, we're no good to anyone else if we don't take care of ourselves first.