The Year of No.

A- A A+

[HAPPY NEW YEAR! I allow myself one re-post each year, around now. I offer it as a reminder to us all – myself included – of the need to become/stay comfortable with saying no when people or obligations tip the scale and become toxic. Please consider. Also, while I have you, we’ve just switched to the domain, and doing so meant we lost social media data on the posts. Please know how much we appreciate the tweets, “likes” and “shares”. – Thanks, Alicia.]

Could you organize the group gift?

Could you babysit this weekend?

Could you lend me some money (again)?

Meet Carla. She said yes to all these requests—this past weekend.

People who meet her see a dynamic, caring and accomplished woman.

They’re right.They’re just missing something—Carla is a people-pleaser. You won’t find it highlighted on her resume, or part of her online profile, but it’s there.

Carla struggles to say no. She is warm and caring at her core, so it’s no act—she wants to help. But then she feels resentful later, when her time is stretched.

Have you ever suffered a little bout of the “the disease to please”? Sure, there are short-term payoffs when we say yes: we feel good, we see the other person’s relief, we hear and feel their appreciation…then later, it hits: how am I going to juggle this?

What’s a Savvy Girl to do?

She starts with a little naval gazing: how many times has she found herself in this position recently (be honest, then pass the chocolate.)? What motivated her? Was it pressure or guilt (more chocolate)? Did it stem from a desire to be liked (break out the Belgian truffles)?

Practice saying no. It seems like petulant toddlers are the only ones allowed to declare “No!” with utter defiance.

Let’s reclaim it.

Say no to small things at first, then work your way up.

If you’re not up to that, buy time: say you’ll think about it, or you’ll need to check, and you’ll get back to them; then email or text, if you’re not comfortable yet saying no in person or on the phone.

Anticipate the guilt trip and the broken-record responses, so that you’re not blindsided by them.

Respect and protect your free time.

Remind yourself that you can support your friends, but you don’t need to take on their problems.

Make this year about saying no.

Then get ready to say yes to the things that you really want to do in your free time.

What sort of things do you find are sticky to say no to? What works for you?




  1. Molly says

    Hi Alicia,

    I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you when you visited our book club last year! I could’ve listened to you tell stories for hours!

    I was just talking with some friends today about how to say “no,” and it helps to have a stock response to use as necessary. Some variation on “Thank you for the opportunity, but I am unable to take advantage of it at this time” works well. I just have to remind myself to use it!

    I hope you are enjoying your latest adventure!


    • Alicia Young says

      Hello Molly,

      So lovely to hear from you! I had such a good time at your book club; talk about a warm welcome.
      You’ve hit the nail on the head: often we get roped into something because we’re caught off guard. I like your response, as it politely sidesteps the request while still recognizing the worth/opportunity of what someone is asking of you. Sometimes I’ll use these:

      a. I’m sorry, at the moment I can’t give that the attention it deserves.
      b. I won’t be able to attend, but I wish you the best with the event.
      c. I’d like to be there, but I’m on the run. 🙂 (OK, maybe not).

      Thanks for stopping by!

      @AliciaWriter @SavvyLifeAwards

  2. says

    Alicia, thank you for reposting this powerful article! I think we can all relate to the fear of saying no out of guilt or obligation. This message comes to me at the perfect time! Blessings.

  3. maria says

    This is so true what you are saying Alicia. I find it hard to say no, but I am slowly learning and getting much more stronger, little steps, slowly but surely I will get there. I think why I was afraid to say No was I was scared of there response but I shouldn’t be scared of them because its not my responsibility on how they take it, they can jump up and down, get angry, do the guilt trip or the pressure trip, mature healthy friends will respect the yes and the no’s, I have to face my fear and say no, i remember my aunty use to say if you are saying no to someone you are saying yes to yourself, respecting yourself.

    • Alicia Young says

      Hello Maria, and thanks for dropping by – it’s lovely to see you here!
      You hit the mail on the head: we’re not responsible for how other people react. We can only make the decisions that stay true to who we are, and let the chips fall where they may.
      Wise words from your aunt, too. I read this quote just today: what we are not changing, we are choosing. Eight little words that pack a lot of punch – it made me sit up!
      Thanks again, and in the spirit of the quote, here’s to new beginnings and fresh opportunities in any areas we choose!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *