By Nadine Araksi, Toronto-based Story Coach

NO-vember: The Power of Saying No

Do you say yes to everyone and every request reflexively before reviewing what you had actually committed to for yourself? What does that look like?

  • A work request comes through, and you immediately jump to solve a colleague’s issue, parking your own deadline for the day.
  • A child interrupts you with a dramatic recounting of a non-urgent problem, and you stop what you were doing to listen (and hopefully fix).
  • A news bulletin captures your attention. Suddenly you’re researching and sharing information in your group chats. You lose the day to chasing the story.
  • A friend comes to you for help with a business idea that excites you. You don’t even realize you’ve stopped working on your own business idea or big project to help.

Do you find yourself saying yes to every invite or request and then complaining that you don’t have any time for yourself? So common!

I’ve written about my habit of wanting to DO ALL THE THINGS before, as well as my tendencies towards feeling like I have to fix everything for everyone. I’m a doer, a person who says yes, sometimes due to FOMO. But more often than not, I have a saviour complex and subconsciously believe I’m most valuable if I can prevent everyone I care about from experiencing discomfort.

Conditioned to be a people pleaser, I dealt with my childhood trauma by building this “yes” habit. Of course, I can do it, fix it, and make it better. If it would keep the peace in my home, I would deny my own desires and priorities so that I could be seen as the “good girl.”  My subconscious need to keep myself safe meant trying to control lots of things that were outside of my control or responsibility.

Then after my divorce, I went through a phase of needing to say “yes” to lots of things in order to discover who I was after years of compromise and changing myself to fit a relationship that no longer fit. I’m incredibly lucky to have the rich social life I have, but as time has passed, I’m realizing so many of my yesses are due to FOMO.

In October, during one of our online group coaching sessions, Stephanie was live coaching me on my thoughts about tasks and time and why my book wasn’t getting written. I was encouraged to start taking 24 hours before saying yes to anything. Like any habit change, it was uncomfortable at first. But over time, I began to see the value in waiting before agreeing to something.

Which brings me to NO-vember: my month of no. 

  • NO to any invites without first thinking through how adding them to my week means time away from my book.
  • NO more snooze button. I’m getting up and writing.
  • NO more mind drama. I’m delivering on my commitments.
  • NO excuses when it comes to my daily movement goals.

Now it’s your turn. Join my NO-vember challenge! What are you going to say “no” to so you can start saying “yes” to yourself? Consider this permission to say “no” throughout the month before the obligations of December kick in.

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