I’ve always had a hard time saying “No.”

I’m one of those people who always tries to do whatever is asked of him.  I’m not saying I’m gullible by any means, but if I’m asked to help with a project or contribute to something, my first reaction is to say “Yeah! Sure! I’d love to!” without thinking of the consequences of my response.

I could list all of the examples but the list would be far too long– instead I’ll just list a few of the bigger blunders:

  • Agreeing to sing in a second chorus, then agreeing to sing in a THIRD.  Being bi-choral is one thing; being TRI-choral is insane.
  • Serving on the board of directors for two different groups at the same time.
  • Serving on the marketing committee for two choruses.
  • Putting down a deposit on a vacation I knew I couldn’t afford.

And the list goes on.

Eventually I get so overworked and/or overextended that I just can’t take it anymore, and I have to cut the cord and walk away.  I always try to do it amicably, but I’m always left feeling as if I let people down.  That’s not healthy for me, nor is it for the people I’m leaving behind.

Recently, however, I’ve been getting better at saying no right away.

For instance, this weekend is the time I would normally be making a trip to Madison, WI for the Delta Epsilon Chi/DECA State Conference.   I’ve been involved with this organization since 1989, when someone asked me if I wanted to run for a local chapter office.  This was, of course, another instance where I said yes immediately; but it ended up being one of the more rewarding things I had ever done for myself.  In the years since, I have remained fairly active with the organization, but in recent years my involvement has essentially been to participate as a judge at the State conference and that would be it.

This year, for numerous reasons, I decided it just wasn’t in the cards for me to participate.  I needed to simply take a year off.  I’ll miss not seeing my friends from the area, but there will be other years and other opportunities.

So instead of committing to go, then cutting and running at the last minute; I simply said “no.”

And it felt pretty good.

I also said “no” to attending the GALA Choruses convention in Miami this summer.  In this instance, I did pay for my registration with the full intention of going; but as time went on, I realized I needed to say no again.  My sister had her babies and needs a lot of help.  My mom still wants to have another rummage sale this summer and get rid of more stuff from the house.  And yes, money was another issue, but there were other, more pressing issues ahead of money this time that influenced my decision.  I could have made it work monetarily.  I just felt that this year was not a good year for the trip.  So I said “no” to the opportunity.

I’ve also started paring down other commitments that take up a lot of my time.  Even my blog has been a sort of a “victim” of this new attitude.  I always used to think I HAD to post something every day.  I no longer think that way.  If something comes to me, I’ll write about it.  If I go for a week without posting, so be it.   Why should I beat myself up if I don’t post something?  That turns something that should be fun into a chore, and let’s face it, nobody likes a chore.

But don’t think that I say “no” to everything these days.  Au contraire.  There is plenty that I still say yes to.

I’ll leave that to your imagination.