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Saying No, Fear, and Baby Steps

Saying NO…it’s high time I really start doing it!

I’ve always found it mind-boggling how easy it is for some people to just say no. Pardon the stereotype, but it’s usually men who can shout out this word a lot easier and faster than the ladies. Why? There could be a hundred reasons…but in the end, it doesn’t matter because they’re able to DO IT!

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of women who can do it, too. In fact, nearly ALL of the bloggers I follow are women (not on purpose – it just happened that way)…and they’re preaching the “art of saying no” (and the benefits of it) all the time! It seems like I’m reading a blog post about the whole concept almost daily. Maybe they’re not practicing what they preach…but hopefully they are.

So, what happens every time I read one of those posts? Well, I think to myself…“ughhh, she’s totally talking about me! I have this exact problem (yes, it’s a problem – not a “challenge”, as I like to typically refer to things in my pollyanna-like way!). Why is it so hard for me? Why can’t I just do it? Come on, don’t be such a wuss! You’re not going to get anywhere in life (or in your business!) by always saying yes…because who suffers when you always say yes? YOU DO! (Remember, I’m talking to myself here…but really, I’m talking to all the “can’t-say-no-ers” out there!)

How can two little letters be so difficult to say…especially when there are tons of different ways to say them!?!? I mean, it’s not like you have to flat-out say “NO” when responding to someone. You can say, “unfortunately, I can’t do it at this time” or “no, thank you” or even “nah, it’s not really my thing.” Goodness gracious, those phrases are so soft and easy to roll off the tongue (or off your fingers if you’re typing them). But even the fluffy phrases can still be difficult to say or write.

So the big question comes out: WHY? Why is it so darn difficult to just say no? No to things you just don’t want to do and even stuff you know you can’t do (due to time, skill, desire, etc.). I truly think fear is the number one reason (at least it is for me).

Here’s another one that boggles my oh-so-busy mind: Why do some people possess more fear than others? The answer? I believe fear comes from a combination of your upbringing, your environment, your experiences, and your own thoughts in your busy little head. Sure, there can be one situation or incident that occurs in your life that is the main cause for your fear (of saying no or any other challenge you may face). But typically, it comes from the combo.

Well, what are we gonna do about these annoying, harassing, frustrating fears that hold us back, hinder our success, and just bring us down in general?

Two things:
First, let’s squash ’em!
Second, let’s do it one step at a time. Repeat after me: BABY STEPS!

We all know the phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Well, we aren’t going to conquer all of our fears in one day. We aren’t going to just start saying NO so easily and right this very second.

BUT, we can take some serious baby steps. We could try to conquer just one fear…even if it takes a few days. Then, once that fear is squashed, we can move onto the next one.

If you’re anything like me, you want to get through your entire to-do list in one day. Ahhh, that would feel like heaven, wouldn’t it? You want to design your own website, do your own accounting, decorate your own office, clean your own house – you get the picture.

And sure, you COULD do ALL of those things…but why would you/we even want to? We typically want to out of fear. We fear that if we hire someone to do something for us, that we’ll suffer financially because we had to pay them for their services. Yet, in the end, we’ll probably flourish due to the extra time we’ll have (among other benefits that will come from outsourcing these tasks). We fear that we’ll feel guilty or defeated for not “doing it all on our own.” But, we can’t do everything on our own, all the time, with no help…and actually be successful.

So after reading so many posts that talk about saying no and taking baby steps, I thought that maybe if I write my own post, declare my own fears, talk about my own issues with saying no, that maybe it would help. Maybe that would be my big ticket to no-land…and fear-squashing-ville.

There’s something that tends to happen when you’re honest and open with yourself and the people around you. Doors tend to open, friends want to support and encourage you more than ever, and things really do start to fall into place (usually better than you could have ever imagined).

I’ll start with my own baby steps to no-saying and fear-squashing…and then I want to hear yours!
Baby StepsBaby Step #1: I will change things up to make progress (if what I was doing before clearly wasn’t working). Perfect example: I decided to make the graphics for this blog post before actually writing the post. That gave me just the push I needed. Why? Who knows…but it worked!

Baby Step #2: I will say no to clients (or projects) who don’t feel right from the get-go.

Baby Step #3: I will say no to clients or projects I can’t take on at that very moment. If they are the right fit, I will give them a realistic date of when I could begin their project. Then, if it’s meant to be, it will happen.

Baby Step #4: I will not procrastinate on projects that aren’t as exciting as others (or if there’s some other reason I’ve been putting it aside). If I’ve committed to doing them, I will do them! I will either tackle them first or be honest with myself and my client that something isn’t right and I need to postpone the project or refer them to someone else.

Baby Step #5: I will write more blog posts. I’m not sure if I’m ready to declare how often, but my baby step is that I’m declaring to do it. Hey, we gotta start somewhere. I know the importance of blogging, and I actually do enjoy writing. Maybe you can help by giving me more ideas of what you’d like me to write about (tutorials on web or graphic design, Mailchimp, productivity, etc.).

So there you have it. Five baby steps I’ve declared to the world. Whew! Feels good!

What do you need to say no to? Even if it’s just one thing!

What do you feel is preventing you from saying no? Is it fear…and if so, can you identify the fear?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Until next time (which will be really soon!),

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13 comments… add one

  • Emma April 25, 2014

    Amen to all the above…here’s to more baby steps – and really tuning into my heart- if it feels GREAT- then i’ll make time to do it..if NOT , i’ll be saying a gentle NO..

    thanks for your blog!

  • Janet April 25, 2014

    Can I have a heck-ya or an amen sista?! I have the exact same fear/problems. Ugh..you’re totally right….baby steps…. I’ve been seeing a ton of posts about this subject too, proud of you for declaring them and facing them! 🙂

    • Stefani Harris April 25, 2014

      Thanks so much, Janet! I’m so proud of you, too! I’ve been witnessing your major baby steps…and there have been a LOT of them! Go girl!!

  • Rebecca Gruenspan April 25, 2014

    Saying no to clients who don’t feel right…fear of passing up money when I certainly need it!! There you have it. That’s the one I will work on. I’ve been learning to outsource and yes, I’m pouring that money out the door, but it’s already put more balance into my life! You don’t have to be great at or love everything!

    • Stefani Harris April 25, 2014

      Amen to that, Becca! Your baby step is definitely one of mine – – so scary to think of saying no with the result of passing up money. BUT, all the wise ones remind us constantly that if we don’t create space for the right ones, then they’ll never be able to come our way. 🙂

  • Nat, Website Superhero April 25, 2014

    Nice going! And yay to the nay!

  • Billie April 29, 2014

    I feel ya, girl! I confess, saying no is difficult! I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings! I have the hardest time saying no when someone invites me to do something I don’t want to do. Some people do it so easily! I promise I will work on that more! 🙂

    • Stefani Harris April 29, 2014

      And you know I promise, too, Billie! We’ll check up on each other’s no-saying-progress! 🙂

  • Kirsten April 29, 2014

    Hell, yeah! By saying no to some things we’ll have much more time to say YES to the right things! Baby steps are the best way to start- it’s all momentum and movement in the right direction. Happiness is journey, not a destination 🙂

    • Stefani Harris April 30, 2014

      Amen, Kirsten!! It’s all about making and creating space… of course, taking those baby steps. Ahhh, so true – it IS a journey…and every journey has its ups, downs, curves, weaves, and bumps! 🙂

  • Stefani Harris August 8, 2014

    Hey there! Thanks so much for the mention and link! Much appreciated!! 🙂

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