Today, Lena Dunham – creator of the HBO series Girls — made a bold announcement. She confessed that she's a people pleaser and says yes way more than she should. Her announcement made me cringe because I could relate to it.
Lena explained her situation this way: "No" is a word that could have served me well many times, but I didn't ever feel I had the right to use it……
Can I be there at noon? Sure can! Will I bring three hundred bucks in foreign currency? Absolutely! Will I also promise to help a friend move, be late meeting them because I also agreed to babysit another friend's sick rabbit, then disappoint everyone in the process? I sure will!
Lena had convinced herself that saying yes at work and in her personal life was the key to her likeability. So she sprinkled it liberally until she began to build up resentment.
Oh, how I know that routine way too well.
She points out that work is all about taking on the challenge and typically, a place of yes. Which is exactly what she was doing until one day, she missed a work deadline and began rattling off all the reasons why. Her work partner then explained to her that life didn't have to be an endless jog to accommodate all the Yes's.
Lena says it was a slow process but a polite "no" soon entered her vernacular. People responded well to her honesty. They understood. They may have been disappointed, but they understood.
You may not have scripts to write or actors to meet with but within the last month, it's likely you said yes to something you really didn't want to do. I know I did. Now, it's time to change that. It's time take a cue from Lena, be realistic about what we can do and save ourselves stress and resentment.
For the sake of work life balance and sanity, try one of these responses next time you're about to say yes:
"I can't do it realistically by Friday,"
"I wish I could help you on that project but my week is insane,"
"I can't be at that event. I have conflict. "
I don't want to go to go out after work. I am exhausted."
Lena tells her friends and colleagues: Don't take it personally when I tell you no this year. I am using it on everyone."
That seems like a line all of us can spit out when we need to say it. Are you ready for your Year of No!