Learning to Say No

Learning to Say No

By: Alix Juillet
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It’s always great when new and exciting opportunities arise.  They present the chance to have fun, push ourselves, and gain valuable experiences which we wish didn’t have to end.  And of course, we never really want to pass these types of opportunities up.

But one thing I’ve learned this semester--and which I will likely learn over and over again as I push my own limits--is that you can’t do it all.  Of course you can try, but it’s only a matter of time until the foundation starts to crack and the burden becomes too heavy.  Learning to say no is one of the most difficult things you can do, but it’s also one of the most important.

Learning to say “no” will definitely have you thinking:  “What if this opportunity doesn’t come around again?”  “What if I CAN fit it into my schedule?”  “These people really need my help!”  “It’s so exciting! I really want to do it!”

But like all things in life, being able to say “no” is a skill to be mastered.  I readily admit that I’m not quite the expert just yet, but one thing that’s helped me say “no” is knowing that I wouldn’t be able to give 100% of myself to each and every opportunity.  In the past, there have been times where my plate was just too full, and little things were starting to seep over the edge and onto the table.  What’s better?  Stretching yourself so thin that you can barely move, zipped into a straightjacket that keeps you on a rigid schedule that, although rewarding, keeps you up so late at night?  Or would you rather have a less-restrictive schedule that’s equally as rewarding but allows for flexibility and down time?  It’s easy to say you’d prefer the second option, but it can be surprisingly difficult to actually say “no” when those opportunities come knocking.

Although it is worrisome to think of missed opportunities, overworking yourself in order to avoid missing them, it is even more harrowing to look back on your life realizing all the important events you’ve missed.  Maybe you’ve been too busy to see your friends, or you miss celebrating a birthday because “life gets in the way.”  That’s why it’s so important to be able to take a step back and really appreciate what you have before looking to add something new.  Consider WHY you want to seize that opportunity, and be honest with yourself to make sure you can actually give your absolute best effort.

If you happen to be looking for an opportunity, or need help reformatting or updating your resume, check out this article I wrote for Simon Fraser University’s Career Services Informer blog: How to Make Your Resume Stand Out.

Good luck to you in managing your opportunities!

Posted on December 11, 2012