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The Hardest Part About Change is Taking Action

The Hardest Part About Change is Taking Action

I honestly don’t think that anyone out there really strives for mediocrity in every facet of their lives. There are some people that are content with their situation in life, but everyone has something they want to excel in; something they want to be proud of.  Unfortunately, most people don’t have the drive to do something about it. They waste away their time and talents day dreaming of what could be instead of living the life they want.

People are constantly taking the easy road in life: it’s less risky, it doesn’t involve a lot of effort and it’s comfortable. Change requires you to step out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. You have to change yourself, your surroundings even your habits.

Everyone has those moments in life where you look at where you are and the things you’ve done to get there; as a result, you’ll either be proud or disappointed. For those of you who have reached the point where you are wondering, “how did I get here?”, there is still hope.

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Change is difficult. If it were easy, we would all be famous billionaires living in mansions. The fact that it’s hard is what makes change and improvement so great. Improving your life will result in several positive outcomes such as, giving you a better sense of self, making you a better person, mother father, friend, etc. and you’ll find yourself being happier in general. You need to understand that changing yourself for the better won’t take away challenges in your life—it will just prepare you to be able to face them.

If you have tried to change in the past and failed, don’t quit. You can still change and start making a difference in your life. The following tips will get you set on the path to action. When you do these things, you are preparing yourself to do more than just dream about the life you want; you are getting yourself on the path to achieving it. Use these tips as guidelines to make the changes in your life that you want to see.

The first step toward changing is knowing what you want to change and why.

Take the time to sit down and write down your goals. Also write down why you want to change; make this as in-depth as you can because it will be a foundation for you. This is something you will be able to go back to when you are feeling like it’s too hard or you have forgotten why it’s important.

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Tell people your goals.

It can be embarrassing for some people to share with others what’s in their heart; but it’s necessary. In order to change, you have to be held accountable. Letting someone else know what you are trying to do will ensure that you have someone to answer to. Make sure this person is someone who will continue to encourage you and isn’t afraid to ask how things are moving along.

Replace bad habits with good ones.

Stopping something cold turkey is hard, so it’s best to replace the unwanted habit with something positive. If you have a major addiction, there are other steps you will have to take. If it’s just a bad habit, such as looking at Facebook too much, replace that with something like going for a walk around the block. If you are trying to stick within a budget, play a game with your family instead of going shopping.  Find something positive to do that will replace the negative things in your life.

Change is not easy, but it’s easier when you have someone to do it with.

Find a partner, coach, friend or family member who might be in the same situation as you. If you want to start working out, set up times when the two of you can go exercise together. If you want to get up earlier, call each other in the morning and encourage one another to get up and get moving. Whatever changes you want to make, find a way to include someone else in them. You will be each other’s support, can hold one another accountable for what you do or don’t do.

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Get rid of distractions.

There are things everywhere in our houses, our workplaces, and even our schools that can and will distract us from changing into the kind of people we want to be. Our phones, computers, iPads, etc. are all wonderful tools that we have at our disposal, but they can also hinder us. We spend so much time texting, emailing and checking various social media platforms. That is time that could be used doing something productive. Limit the amount of time you spend on the computer. Set an alarm and when it goes off, you’re done.

Turn off the TV.

I know so many people who have the TV on in the background while they are trying to get stuff done. I am guilty of this. In the past I would turn on a movie while I was trying to work or clean the house, but every time, I would find myself sitting on the couch watching instead of being up and moving. I decided to listen to audio books instead: that way I don’t have anything visual distracting me from the things I need to get done but I still have something entertaining or educational to listen to.

Only say positive things to yourself.

When you fail it’s easy to point out everything you did wrong, but that is so discouraging. Instead, say to yourself, “I can do hard things.”  You have the ability to change, you just have to believe in yourself. Don’t beat yourself down.

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Serve other people.

It’s funny how service works: you go out expecting to help someone else in need and you end up helping yourself. When you serve others, you feel better about yourself, you make a difference in someone’s life, and you give back to the community.

Recognize the good things you do, no matter how small.

Many people might skip this step because it feels arrogant and prideful. IT’S NOT! Changing yourself is about evaluating where you are in life, what you’re doing and why you’re doing those things. When you make a change, even if it’s something simple, acknowledge it, don’t brush it off like it doesn’t mean anything. It means everything!  It means that you’re actually doing it, you’re changing.

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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