My New Year's Resolution: Saying "No"

Otherwise known as the Otherwise known as the I have to admit, I'm not the best at New Year's resolutions. I talk a good talk, but at the end of January, I'm usually back to whatever I was doing or wasn't doing before (going to the gym being the age ol' example). This year, however, I'm resolving to make a change and fight the "disease to please." There's nothing like a New Year's resolution to jump start motivation, right?

Here's the thing: As a work-from-home mom, I pride myself on my multi-tasking skills. I like to have a lot of things going on, and I really am happy to help out most of the time. But at the same time, I've got to learn to say, "no." I often say "yes" because I don't want to hurt the feelings or upset the person doing the asking. I say "yes" because saying "no" might make me look bad. I say "yes" even when I know I should be saying "no," to the detriment of my own workload and sanity (saying "yes" to additional projects, events at my daughter's school, etc).

Guess what? All that "yes"ing can be exhausting.

Dr. Jaime Kulaga, a therapist, life coach and author, says, "I haven't met a woman in my life who hasn't taken on an exponential amount of roles--far more than is good for any one person. From wife to professional to cook to chauffeur, women simply do not know how to say 'no,' even when they want to."

Related: Ringing in the New Year with a Newborn

Her top reasons for why saying "no" can be a good thing:

An inability to say "no" is based in fear. Kulaga asks, "Why can't we just say "no"? It's because we're afraid of the consequences. Mostly, we are afraid of feeling guilt, feeling a sense that we are diminished in the eyes of others and, overall, that we will somehow lose something. Decisions based in fear, however, are often negative ones as they tend to be entrenched in irrationality or impulsivity. Try to decide things based on what you want, and not what you're attempting to avoid."

Women who can't say "no" have less, not more; be mindful. "Mindfulness is an excellent way to pare down the number of roles so many women assume," says Kulaga. "It's the antidote for women who smile and nod "yes" when their brains are screaming "no," and then go into the bathroom to cry. There is plenty of talk about women who "want it all"--and we can have it all, if we focus on what is really important and narrow the list of roles down to a manageable number."

By saying "no" to some things, you're saying "yes" to others. "As mortal individuals, our time and resources are limited," she writes. "We simply cannot take on all the roles others would have us accept and still have time for the things that truly matter to us. Working late each night, for example, means having less time for your family--or yourself! When women list their priorities, it's almost always in relation to the needs of others and not themselves. It's not only OK, it's healthy to want time and other things for oneself!"

Excellent advice. And with that said, there will be a lot more "no" happening in 2014, people. Mark my words!

- By Ellen Schmidt

For 12 things I wish I knew at the start of 2013, visit BabyZone!

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