Learn to Say No!

We often talk about over-commitment (or entanglement). But what is it exactly? A simple definition might be: the inability or unwillingness to say no when we should. So why would anyone get over-committed or entangled when all he needs to do is to say no at the right time? I think there are three reasons:

-Often we don’t want to say no to show commitment.

-Many people don’t know how to say no.

-We probably want to be careful with offending people.

Help yourself with the following hints:

  1. Establish Goals and Priorities

If you don’t know enough about yourself and how you use time, you should avoid chronic commitment or over-commitment. You know where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going. Based on your goals and priorities, you can be prepared to say no to things that are not consistent with your set objectives.

For instance, an opportunity for career advancement almost always comes with a cost attached. You may be asked to devote 75 percent of your time over the next year to travel. If you haven’t set goals and priorities for yourself and your family, you will naturally feel you have no rational basis for turning down such an opportunity. You suspect this will create problems at home, but you have no objective way to analyze the consequences. (And let’s face it–that’s not something we like to do in advance.) But if you have specific goals and priorities, it is much easier to recognise potential conflicts and arrive at the right decision. In this way, we can be more confident about knowing when it is right for us to say yes and when we should say No!


  1. Seek Accountability

We frequently become over-committed because we aren’t accountable to anyone. If you are married, make a habit of consulting your spouse before making commitments, and listen to her advice, because she may be seeing things ahead that you are not even perceiving. A friend of mine has spent half his life making unrealistic commitments–and the other half undoing them after his wife found out.


  1. Consider Other Factors

Sometimes the reasons for over-commitment are beyond our immediate control. If your boss, superior or supervisor is unrealistic about your workload or activities, you may likely stay over-committed without fully understanding why. You may even develop physical or emotional problems which can inhibit your performance. These must be identified and addressed before you can do anything at a reasonable and realistic rate- after all, a goal must be realistic.


  1. Put God’s Desires First

Disobedience can be an underlying factor which can foster over-commitment. At times, we don’t do what God wants all because we want to please people or gain cheap recognition. So the first step in dealing with overload is to understand what God is saying now concerning what you are doing. You may have to follow through on some commitments that you now know they were not originally in God’s plan for you. But now, you may need to go back and say NO to other commitments that are outside His plans. The cost may be high, while it’s difficult to break commitments, but if that’s what God wants you to do, you must be willing.


  1. Wait Before Saying Yes.

Form a habit of never saying yes until you have had time to think and pray about a request. When asked to do something, give a specific time when you will be able to give an answer. Make a note of the request, think and pray about it during your next quiet time.

God is seldom, if ever, in a hurry. Even when you know your answer will be yes, don’t respond immediately. If it’s important to God, it will wait at least one day. It is surprising how much difference a one-day pulse can make. You may still say yes, but you will have much more insight into your decision. For example, you may determine that a different completion date for a project is needed, or someone else should also be involved.

One final word: Follow the axiom, “If in doubt, don’t… ”

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