Have you ever said yes to something that you know you should have said no to? You have so much going on in your life, but someone asks you to do something and you say yes because you don’t want to let them down, you don’t want them to think you can’t manage a few (read a lot) of things at once or maybe you think that you can handle it when in reality you can’t? I have done this before time and time again. I have overcommitted myself to the brink of a mental breakdown. You’d think I would have learned my lesson but nope. I have a full plate and still invite new things to be added then get so stressed out and panicked because I have so much to do. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn.

If you are like me and you say yes to things that you know you should say no to I’m going to share how to say no when you’ve said yes.

Evaluate if the New Thing is Worth Taking On
So you’ve said yes to something you know you should have said no to. Evaluate if it is worth doing with the other things you have going on. Is it realistically *KEYWORD here* doable?

Maybe it’s something like picking up the fruit bowl from the store for your next work meeting and the store is on your way home and to work. That is doable, you’re not having to go out of your way.

If it something more major like tackling a new client, when you have several that you are trying to manage and deal with that require a lot of time. Then that’s probably not something you need to take on right now.

Don’t cause yourself more added stress, panic, sleep loss, anxiety, etc. over it. That is not good for you or anyone.

Dig Deep
Do you need to say no because you are super stressed and really can’t deliver or you are having a bit of “buyer’s remorse?” If it’s the first then by all means say no. If it’s the second however sometimes you just need to suck it up and do it.

If you have a bad habit of saying yes to things, then backing out because you either were in the moment and you really couldn’t, just plain don’t want to, or it’s a just a habit then don’t flake out, then that doesn’t look good on anyone. Don’t be the cancel queen.

Tell Someone
Once you’ve decided if the new task is doable or not and if you’re cancelling because you need to or just don’t want to do the task, tell someone. There is no penalty or consequence for telling your boss or teacher or friend that you can’t do it. I promise you won’t be disappointing them, letting them down and they won’t think anything less of you.

Chances are they will be totally okay with it and think more of you for reaching out and saying “Hey, you know I got a lot on my plate right now and just can’t manage this to the level of quality or best of my ability.” It’s best to do it in person or over the phone but if you must over an email works too. Please don’t text it; give them the professionalism of an email at the very least.

The Feelings
You’ll feel 1of 2 emotions once you say no, either a huge sigh of relief and a weight lifted off your shoulders or you will feel horribly guilty and contemplate saying that you can do it again. I feel good that I can focus on my other projects and commitments with 100% and not feel stressed or anxiety ridden. I also feel like I should have just sucked it up and done it and feel guilty for saying no. Both of these feelings are normal and come with saying no.

The No Train
If you have so much going on you can’t even think straight and need to back off your commitments then make it a point to say no to new things for a certain length of time until you feel more “normal” with your workload and schedule.

If someone asks you to do something, don’t say yes right away even though you want too. Consciously remember not to just agree to do it, and instead say “You know what let me think about it and I will get back with you in a day or two.” Now instead of being in the heat of the moment and saying yes you can really think about it and see if it’s doable or not. If it’s not, then your answer is no.

Bits to Remember

There’s no harm in saying no when you’ve already said yes.  It won’t come back to bite you (unless you’re a chronic backer-outer). There is nothing wrong with it, and if you have too many things going on and need to for your mental and physical health then please do. You won’t be letting anyone down, it won’t hurt your reputation (again, unless you’re a chronic backer-outer) and you will thank yourself for it. Having a full schedule is okay, but with it comes the fine line of being able to say no when you know you can’t and shouldn’t take on something new.

How do you say no when you’ve already said yes? Any tips? Share in the comments below!




Samantha is one of the Co-Founders for Tribe Twenty One. She’s currently a senior in college finishing up her Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management and plans to become an event planner. When she’s not studying or working on Tribe 21, she’s working as an administrative assistant to a top San Diego wedding venue and managing her personal blog called Of Life and Style.

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