Learning when to say 'yes' or 'no'

In the past, saying yes to everything and everyone made me someone I didn’t want to be.

If someone asked me to do something I would say yes on the spot… and likely regret saying it later.

I wasn’t saying yes because I was decisive. I was saying yes because I was attracted to shiny things. Shiny things and making others happy. Putting others needs above my own sanity… ok, in hindsight thats a big 'oops!'.

Saying yes without pausing to think wasn’t healthy.

It would catapult me into intense overload just about every single time. It was like I was trying to balance a thousand spinning plates with everything I’d said yes to. Now that I look back on it… I can see that I was actually living in a state of chronic stress. Every month, almost on cue, it would bubble over and I’d write the longest list you could imagine of all the to-do’s and responsibilities that were lurking around in my mind. Not just lurking… but weighing me down more and more every time I was reminded I hadn’t done them.

Getting it all out on paper was both satisfying and confronting. At the rate I was saying yes to things it was apparent that I obviously thought I had a zillion more hours in the day than I actually did. Now I can see why it all kept bubbling over…

That whole wanting to make others happy thing? Yeah.. it often backfired.

Yes, I made other people happy when I initially agreed to help them do whatever it was they needed… but I also disappointed them and actually ended up making their lives harder when I had to go back on my agreement and say ‘sorry but I actually can’t help’.

I started to become more and more aware of the fact that I was being a poor friend, an absent daughter and a preoccupied wife. I was waaaaay too busy for the people I loved most. Heck, I was way too busy to even look after myself! And for what purpose? I wasn’t even helping people half the time. I was being a nuisance, I was letting people down left right and centre.

Things are so different now that it seems ridiculous that I used to live this way.

These days when a shiny opportunity comes my way or someone asks a favour, I acknowledge my desire to dive in and say yes, I accept it as a really beautiful part of who I am and how much I love people. Then I stop and actually consider what saying yes means, not just the impact it will have on me, my time and my mental state, but on those around me too.


for knowing when to say 'yes' or 'no'

Trying taking as much time as you need to run the next thing requested of you through these filters…

  • Do I actually want to do this?

  • Do I have the capacity to do this?

  • If I say yes to this, what am I saying no to as a result?

  • Does it have to be me who does this, or is someone else better suited and more available?

  • If I say yes, how will it impact others positively and/or negatively?

  • And for the bigger opportunities and requests that come your way... ‘Does doing this align with my personal values and life mission?’ (if you’re not really sure what your values and life mission are then working with a Life Coach is an excellent option to find this out!)

Thank goodness for increased self-awareness!

Now that I have a “screening process” (like the questions above) for considering new commitments I am incredibly confident in my yes’s and my no’s. Opposite to what I must have subconsciously expected for years… No-one has ever responded negatively to me saying ‘no’. More often than not they’re impressed by my ability to say no! They see me respecting my boundaries and they value that, I know this because people like to comment on it and commend me. My ‘yes’ definitely carries more weight and reliability now too. I’m much happier being known as helpful and reliable, than flaky. No one wants to have a reputation for letting others down. And on the occasion that I can't say yes, I'll try to help find another solution. People really appreciate that and it ties into me still being helpful and loving others.

The other side to all of this is how much better I feel living life under an appropriate load of commitments and responsibilities. I’m not constantly telling people I’m too busy. I have space in my life again!!! It’s a miracle!!! I know for a fact that my close friends, family and of course my husband and baby boy are pretty darn happy about me learning to make better decisions because I’m actually available to them now! Something we’re all grateful for.

I’ve been through it myself and I work with my coaching clients on this kind of stuff all the time. It all comes down to priority management, learning what you want to say yes to and what you need to say no to! The changes in my life have been outstanding. It warms my heart when clients tell me all the good things that have come from them learning what to say ‘yes’ to and what to say ‘no’ to. Feedback like that is exactly why I love being a Personal Success Coach!

I finally know what it feels like to truly be myself and make considered decisions.

I know how it feels to enjoy life with an appropriate amount of commitments, to be reliable and present. And it feels PRETTY DARN GOOD! The good news? This is something you can achieve too.

Ciao, Steph

p.s. We hope you found this blog helpful on your personal success journey. If you have any questions or comments we’d love to hear from you! So, go ahead and email us.

Steph Edmunds,

Certified Professional Life Coach

Steph Edmunds is SESC's incredibly passionate, experienced Certified Professional Life Coach based in Launceston, Tasmania - coaching across Australia and the world. You can contact Steph directly to make coaching inquiries or follow SESC on Facebook for regular doses of personal success insights and motivation!