Even though giving to others can you give you so much happiness, it can become frustrating and exhausting and might even breed anger and resentment if you don’t give to yourself, too.
For many years now, we’ve heard the mantra, “You can have it all” But the reality is you can’t have it all. You’re a finite being and time and money are limited resources. Every choice you make cuts you off from all the other choices you could have made at that moment.
Let’s think about something small and concrete, like breakfast. What are you going to have for breakfast? Do you have yogurt? Where? at home? Then you can’t have breakfast out, have eggs and bacon for breakfast, or have someone cook for you and bring you breakfast in bed. It’s absurd to think we can have it all for breakfast, but somehow we think we can have it all when it comes to our life.
But life works the same way. If you choose to stay at your job, you can’t start your own business or start a career in a new field or work for a different company or stay home with your kids. You miss out on all those experiences that would come with those opportunities. That’s ok. Instead of trying to have it all, we have to curate our lives for the experiences that we want and that fit within our time and budget constraints.
When you’re stressed out and tired, it’s your cue that you’re not giving something to yourself. Sometimes it can be hard to find the time and the energy to give to yourself because you’re so darn busy with commitments and responsibilities, and then you know it’s time to give up some activities that no longer serve you. And time to say no to new requests for your time or money.
Give yourself permission to say no to others so that you can take care of yourself. You’re worth it!
Here are my tips for saying no…
How to say no in 4 easy steps
- Listen and evaluate
Give the person asking you the respect of really listening to their request and understanding what and why they’re asking. Then evaluate it. I have a list of donation rules, so when it’s to know when a request violates a rule, and it’s time to say no.
Know Your Donation Rules
Saying no is easier when “Yes” is clear, so I defined my giving strategy.
- How Much Will I Give
- What Causes Do I Support
I support charities that help people become self-sufficient, that support pets, veterans, women, and/or the environment, and that promote an educated public.
- What Don’t I Support?
I don’t support disease oriented charities (aka cancer, diabetes, etc.). I have very specific reasons for this that may be the subject of another post in the future, and you may disagree with me. That’s ok. The point is, I know that I say no to these requests.
- Any other rules?
I also don’t donate to charities without doing any research on them. I work too hard for my dollars to send them off to any old charity and trust that they are going to do the right thing. Nope, I will work through my 3 Level Evaluation first. Always. Period.
I know how much money I’m going to donate each month. For me, this is easy, because I primarily donate through my giving circles. My donations come out of my checking account every month and go right to my giving circle. My giving circles help me make donations to great charities.
In addition to that, I give myself an additional $50 per month to donate to other causes outside my giving circles. These are typically to organizations I donate to periodically throughout the year, but I don’t really need the help of my giving circle to make sure that the charity is top notch. For example, I donate to NPR during the membership drives.
When a request violates one of my rules, then it’s time for me to say no. And the first thing I want to do is to appreciate the person who is asking. Truly, it’s a wonderful thing that someone is out there raising money for a cause that they believe in. I love that people take the time and energy to get out of their little worlds and do something for others and to make the world a better place. I want to appreciate and honor that intention.
Then I want to say no.
So, that’s the formula. Appreciate and then decline. And it looks like this:
John, Thank you for asking me. I really respect and admire you for getting out there and supporting a cause you believe in. I wish I could donate, but (insert rule violation here). I wish you tons of success with your fundraising.
Here are a couple examples of my rule violations: .
I wish I could donate, but I’ve already reached my monthly donation limit. (I know that this leaves me open for a request next month)
I wish I could donate, but I focus my giving on supporting causes that support veterans, pets, and help people get out of poverty.
Requests for Time
If someone is asking for time, I like to decline with a nuanced version of the truth. I don’t necessarily want to disclose my full reason, because I don’t want them to talk me out of it or the truth might kind of hurt their feelings. So I go with a nuanced version of the truth that treats them and their request with respect.
For example, “I’d love to help but, I’m not the right person for this. I don’t have the attention for detail needed to do a good job.” or “I wish I could help, but I’ve got too much other stuff going on right now, and I just don’t have the time” or “Thanks for asking, I really admire that you are passionate enough about this cause to go out and volunteer for this event. But I’m passionate about poverty and veterans and that’s where I focus my volunteer work.”
Because some people don’t take no for an answer, and you know what? that’s great! People who don’t take no for an answer go out and change the world when everyone says it can’t be done. But it’s also a pain when they won’t take no from you. But it’s simple, just say, “Yeah, thanks for asking. I’m flattered you thought of me, but I just can’t. Good luck with your project”.
You gave yourself what you needed so good for you. And I promise saying no gets easier, you just have to practice it!