Advice, Contributors, Heather Barnes

Why I Should Follow My Child’s Example and Say “No”


My two year old son has that word down pat. I ask him a question and he tells me “No”. Sometimes I think he says “No” just because he likes the way it sounds.

I picked him up from school and asked him if he played today. “No play!”

I asked him if he had circle time, which they have every day to learn letters, numbers and other things. “No circle!”

I asked him what he ate for lunch. “No lunch!”

I wonder why it’s so easy for him to say “No” but so hard for me to say it.

I think most, if not all, women struggle with this. We’re supposed to be able to be dynamos at work and at home, handling the demands of jobs, family, and all the activities that come with both.

Do you want me to join a committee? Attend another meeting? Take on another responsibility? I’m going to probably say yes. There are so many things I could do and opportunities I want to take advantage of. I can have it all, right?

I looked at my calendar recently and realized how full it is. Some were things I wanted to do. Others were things I felt obligated to do. It was so easy to fill every day with a meeting or some other obligation.

As I sat down to think about my goals for this year. I realized I am a workaholic. I realized I am very good at saying “Yes” and terrible at saying “No”. I’ve said “Yes” so much that I’m struggling to find enough free time to meet the obligations I agreed to. Enough time for my family and for myself.

I recently read an article on “25 Ways to Say No” by Christy Wright, a business coach I first learned of through following Dave Ramsey. It included a cheat sheet of ways to gracefully decline opportunities which made saying “No” sound much nicer.

A few weeks ago I said “No”. I felt guilty about it at first, but gradually realized that by saying “No” to one thing, I said “Yes” to something else. Once I said it the first time, I’ve found it’s been easier to say and I’ve actually turned down several “opportunities”. Yes, I still struggle with feeling guilty, but the benefits outweigh the guilt.

Some opportunities I declined were things I really wanted to do. Others I would have done just because I was asked. I said “No” to things related to work. I said “No” to opportunities in my personal life. Some were really easy to decline and others, well let’s just say that turning them down required a little soul searching. I can’t say I regret declining any of them, although I will have the opportunity to participate in several things I declined in the future. That made it easier to say “No” now.

Did the world end because I said “No”? Well I’m still writing this post and you are ready it so there goes that excuse. My son says it and keeps right on going. I think I need to take lessons from him.

How do you handle saying “No”?

Disclaimer: Christy Wright doesn’t know me or that I am mentioning her in a this post. I started following her after I found there through Dave Ramsey, who also doesn’t know me or about this post. I find Christy’s writing on personal development very inspiring and often about a topic I need inspiration on in just that moment.

Heather Barnes

About Heather Barnes

Heather grew up in the city but farming is in her blood. Her dad grew up on the farm and her maternal great-grandpa was a hog and crop farmer. Heather majored in Animal Science at Virginia Tech and went on to get her Master’s degree in Agriculture Education. Heather left Virginia after graduation and spent almost 11 years as an Agriculture Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. She met her husband, Brooks, who farms tobacco, corn, soybeans, sweet potatoes and wheat in partnership with his dad. When they decided to get married she relocated and switched careers, joining the North Carolina Department of Agriculture as a Marketing Specialist. Now living in a small agricultural community in eastern North Carolina, Heather spends her time pitching in on the farm when she can, chasing her two-year old son, taking pictures of all things farming and occasionally reading a book.

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