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Saying 'No' So You Can Say 'Yes!'


One of the most common business challenges I hear from my mompreneur clients is usually some variation on the theme of Overwhelm.

-“I want to Play Big, but it feels like so much work!”

– “How do I get it all done?”

– “How do I set priorities?”

– “I never feel like I’m ‘done’ with work and my family has had it!”

-“I work and work and work.”

Does any of this resonate with you? Please know that you are not alone. Many of my clients and workshop participants struggle with feeling overwhelmed. Even I struggle with it sometimes (yes, coaches struggle, too) though it is not the way of life for me that it once was.

So that I could write a post that would speak to the heart of this matter, I looked up the word “overwhelm” in the dictionary. Here is the entry:

o·ver·whelm (vr-hwlm, -wlm)
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf
2. a. To defeat completely and decisively
b. To affect deeply in mind or emotion
3. To present with an excessive amount
4. To turn over; upset:

Well those are pretty yucky definitions! I couldn’t choose just one of these because, to me anyway, at some time or another, overwhelm feels like any or all of the above. Surged over, defeated, affected deeply in mind and emotion, excessive amounts, upset – yeah that’s overwhelm alright. So now the question is how to deal it. The solution is actually simple (remember simple and easy are not the same word!)

Just say “No”.

Great, Sarah. Thanks for the advice – right? I’m serious. When I am feeling overwhelmed, it is usually because I have said or implied “Yes” to entirely too many things. And usually I’ve done this for one of two reasons 1)I have not chosen on the front end what is important and not important to me or 2) I am afraid that if I don’t say “Yes” I might miss something.

These two reasons will keep you tangled up in overwhelm at every turn and if we don’t build a strategy to deal with them, our lives will stay that way. So, what is a woman/wife/friend/girlfriend/mother/businesswoman/housekeeper/cook/ get the idea…to do?

Part of the problem is that our society tells us that we can have it all and do it all. We admire and lift up those who appear to have attained that glorified status of “having it all”.

Here is the hard lesson I have learned: I can have it all and do it all – just not all at the same time. I have to choose what I want in my life and in my business. I have to choose what I am and am not willing to do. And yes, when I choose sometimes I make the wrong choice, but that is just life and my world won’t end because of it.

When I consciously choose something, I can bring my best, most focused energy to it.

When I consciously choose something, the distractions fall away (unless I’m looking for distractions, but that is another story) because I know what my priorities are. This is a far better approach than just reacting to whatever comes my way and treading water as fast as I can to keep from drowning in it.

Here is a quick exercise to help you make some proactive choices for your business and your life: Think about all the areas of your life that matter to you and write them down as categories. Home and Business are good places to start. Then choose 3 or 4 (more than that is too many) things you want in those categories. Be specific. Under “home” you might write “Have family night at home twice a month”.

Once you get them written down, post them where you can see them. Then, when you are faced with overwhelm, check you list. What are you choosing? Is it something that is not on your list? If you want to keep it as a priority, are you willing to forfeit something that is on your list? If two things on your list come into conflict, which is a higher priority? If you had to choose between the two, which is more important?

If you quiet your spirit and listen, your heart will tell you what to say “Yes” to and that is what this whole article is about, right? Once you make your choices, teach yourself to say “No” to what doesn’t matter so you can say “Yes” to those things that do. Your heart,mind and spirit (never mind your family and friends) will thank you for being present and focused and giving your best.

Remember, playing small serves no one and playing big requires that you learn to say “no.”



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