Why You Should Say “No” More Often

So you can make room to say “yes” to yourself.

As 2020 draws to an end, and we’re all starting to look at new year resolutions, or just how to leave 2020 behind–I wanted to highlight something that I think we all need to do more of.

When I’m talking about saying “no”, I don’t mean to the stranger down the street–but to your own family members, your friends, or your work.

During these tough lock-down times, you might be so hungry for companionship, distraction, or work–that you will be happy to say “yes” to just about anything! And if that’s the case, great! But for those of us that may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything that’s going on in the world–here is your permission to just say “no”.

What I want you to imagine are 24 beads in a jar. For every email you answer, every family member you pick up groceries for, for every self-tape you submit, you’re putting at least one or two beads into another jar. Your goal in life, should be to leave at least eight beads in the jar for the end of the day. If you’re saying “yes” to everyone, how many beads are you leaving yourself with?

I’m sure you’ve figured out that the beads are hours in a day, and that for every hour you dedicate to something else, you’re deducting it from your own self-care (the jar). Time, like those beads, are finite. You only have 24 hours in a day, and an easy way to divide it up, is eight for work obligations, eight for doing whatever will keep you healthy and happy, and eight for sleep. Within this period of 24 hours, we should be focusing on our four pillars of health. Although there are a few different variations on what they may be, the main idea is:

  1. Physical Fitness/Exercise: Getting at least 15-20 minutes of movement in our bodies daily.
  2. Nutrition: Nourishing our bodies with good, whole foods rather than stopping at the drive-thru before our next meeting.
  3. Mental Health: Spending time doing things that feed your mind. Talking to loved ones, reading a book, or playing with your kids.
  4. Sleep: It is not optional. I know you think you can operate just “fine” on 5 hours of sleep–but the truth is, you will burn out. If you consistently sleep less that 6 hours a night, you will increase your chances of suffering from diseases like cancer.

And we should be thinking about this EVERYDAY. It’s not a “I’ll work hard all week, then workout and relax on the weekend” kind of thing. These pillars of health are to be put into play every single day to ensure optimal functionality.

When you start prioritizing these pillars, you will see that saying “yes” to everything likely won’t be possible. Whether it’s that one last work email you want to polish off, or that family obligation you need to drag yourself to, you should get clear on what is serving you, and focus on those tasks first.

That doesn’t mean telling grandma you won’t take her grocery shopping because it “doesn’t serve you”, but maybe you could help her set up an grocery delivery service. Heck, you could even do the ordering for her if she isn’t so savvy on the computer. What that does is cut down on the precious time you will spend on the task. But, if this is something you LOVE doing to spend more time with your grandma–then by all means, do it. Make it fun and relaxing for both of you. That would contribute to the third pillar of health.

Same thing with work. Most of us have to work, to make enough money to support our lifestyle. I’m certainly not saying, screw work and go run off to have fun, but you need to set boundaries. It used to be simple. You wake up, head to work for an eight hour shift, come home and that’s the end of it. But the emergence of emails, smartphones, and now ZOOM have put us in a continuous work mode.

It is important to set boundaries and not be worried that you are seen as “slacking off” if you’re not glued to your emails. It’s about recognizing your worth, and the amount of work you can get done, regardless of being available 24/7. Most studies show that if you increase your focus on the Four Pillars of health, you will actually increase your productivity at work.

I will admit, I rarely ever say no to auditions. They are hard to come by, especially now, but I recently said no to two of them. Why? Because they were for low-budget productions, and the expectation was for me pay for my own travel/accommodations. So, not only would I have to pay out of pocket for expenses, but I’d have to be away from my family, and get paid less. In the end, I might not have made any money at all.

There was definitely a time in my life, where I still would’ve jumped at the chance to be cast in a production like this. When I didn’t have kids, and when I had less experience. But I realized that if I auditioned and got this job, I’d probably resent the experience, and be stressed out about the expenses/child care. So, in the end, I gave myself permission to say no. Was I worried my agent would be pissed, yes. But what she–not at all. And then some other auditions came up, and I was better able to focus on those ones because I had more beads–I mean time.

All in all, I just wanted to remind everyone that our self-care is important too, and the better we take care of ourselves, the better we are able to show up in the world. What are some ways you like to take care of yourself?


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