A 12 Step Program for Saying No

  1. Admit to yourself that the fact that you can create value for other people doesn’t mean that you must always say “yes” to other people’s requests.
  2. Recognize and admit to yourself (and others) that you are already overcommitted and your life is already unmanageable.
  3. Understand that you don’t always need to please others and that taking on other people’s projects and tasks will not bring you happiness or fulfillment.
  4. Don’t believe that you are being selfish by saying “no.”
  5. Believe that your life and your priorities are more important than what others would ask of you and that your life is the only one you have.
  6. Take an inventory of what makes you happy and what will make you the best version of you that the world has ever known.
  7. Believe that by putting your priorities first that you grow in your capacity to serve others and become more valuable when you do say “yes.”
  8. Accept that your time and energy is finite and that you cannot possibly do all that you want–for yourself or for others.
  9. Learn to politely say “no” by thanking others for the opportunity to help them, and then explain that you can’t commit because you don’t want to disappoint them.
  10. Trust that those who ask you to take on projects and tasks will find someone to help them, and believe that that someone will have the every bit of your potential to create value for them (and maybe more).
  11. Remember that by saying “no” to other people’s priorities, you are helping them by not missing your commitments or doing work that is less than it might be.
  12. Continually remind yourself of things to which you need to say “yes,” and that those are your life’s priorities.

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