Why You Should Have a Year of Saying NO

We’ve all heard of having a year of “yes,” and 2021 has been my year of yes. Life is all about balance, learning to enjoy the extremes, finding peace in the chaos and allowing oneself to understand why saying “no” is just as powerful and freeing as saying “yes.” As my year of yes comes to a close I’ve decided to ride the flow and make 2022 my year of no. I am going to learn to say No without FOMO. 

This past year, my focus was on saying yes. I said yes to events and experiences and opportunities that previously would have caused me so much anxiety and stress that I would have said No. In the moments when I most wanted to say no, I said Yes. 

Leigh, at the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure, 2021

Four Ways Learning to Say NO Builds Self Confidence

  • When you keep your word you build trust. Self trust is the foundation of creating your own safe space and becoming self-reliant.
  • Building integrity by learning to keep promises even when you don’t feel like following through.
  • Putting yourself in new situations that allow you to expand your network and friend circle.
  • Tuning into your natural intuition and learning to translate your “gut” feelings.

I said yes to volunteering at my high school one Saturday afternoon. I remember I woke up that morning really dreading my commitment. But I knew I had to honor it. Honoring that commitment — which turned out to be a fun and fulfilling experience — led to my reconnecting with a friend from high school I hadn’t seen in years. Honoring commitments to yourself builds self-trust, strengthens your intuition and gives you a boost of confidence.

Months later, I attended the Susan G. Komen walk with this high school friend because breast cancer eradication is an important cause to him. The morning of the walk, I again wanted to bail. But I didn’t. I had said yes, and I like being a woman who keeps her word. I chose to be the honorable version of me that day. I like holding myself accountable because keeping my own promises gives me the self-assurance I used to need from other people to be brave. When I can give that confidence to myself I become unstoppable. At the walk, I met a woman who has since become a dear friend. She is also single and in her 40s, and she introduced me to other single women in their 40s, a demographic I never realized existed, let alone existed in such abundance!

Who else loves pink? Here are some cute ways to wear pink (the official Breast Cancer Awareness color) it all year long!

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Saying yes sounds simple, but it is quite complex. It requires being responsible and accountable. It requires battling inner demons that tell me things like “no one would miss you if you didn’t show up” and “you’re not good enough” and “you’re not pretty enough” and “you’re not successful enough.” It requires trusting myself — something I will continue working towards for all my days. Every time I keep my commitments to myself, my word and my friends, I become the woman I want to be.

Saying Yes has been the best thing I have ever done for myself. I have met new people and experienced Miami in ways I might not have if left to my own devices. 

So say Yes! See where it takes you. 

No is even more complicated than Yes. I tend to be a people pleaser, so I say Yes to things that benefit others, but don’t benefit me. For me, saying no is much more daunting than saying yes. I worry about hurting feelings or disappointing others. I worry about missing out, that old proverbial “fear of missing out.” I became so proficient at saying yes this year that I had almost forgotten the value of no.

Earlier this year, I went on a first date that was so uncomfortable, awkward, strange, and borderline scary, that I realized maybe the idea of saying yes to new experiences and opportunities needed to be refined to keep me safe and happy. I realized there were going to be times when yes was not the right answer. There were going to be times, like when that guy had asked me out, and I had said yes even though he already made me a bit squeamish, where I should say no instead. How was I going to differentiate between the times when I should push myself to say yes and when I should push myself to say no? I realized that I had no idea.

If you ever find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, here are some simple and inexpensive self defense options:

And if you’re waiting for me to tell you how I have figured out how to differentiate between those moments, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but, in many ways, I still have no idea. I have learned to listen to my gut. My head gets overly fixated on rationalization, and my heart, while pure, has many times led me astray. But my gut is both fearless and flawless. Learning to listen to her, and to separate what she is telling me from what my head and my heart are telling me, continues to be one of the most important knowledge quests of my life. What I have learned about my intuition, and how I continue to learn how to trust my intuition, and to learn what my intuition is and where in my body she lives, is fodder for a separate blog post (or posts).

But for now, I will say this: there is a sensation I get behind my belly button that feels a little bit like someone is wringing out the wet towel of my soul. It is both incredibly satisfying and incredibly uncomfortable. That place and that feeling is what I know to be my gut. I am not saying that anyone else will feel that same sensation when their gut is trying to tell them something. But that’s how I know. Sometimes, I ignore that feeling, ignore the urge to turn around, and instead continue along the path I’m on. But I almost always regret it when I do.

Our guts are unencumbered by emotion and other outside influences. Our guts are pure. The world teaches you to ignore your intuition. Unlearn that lesson. Intuition is the one thing you can always count on to be true and right. 

So say yes. Say no. Honor yourself by learning how to be kind to your future self by RSVP-ing the right way for you. Join me in making 2022 The Year of No. “No” is a 2 letter word. 2022, a year with three 2’s, seems like the perfect year for this particular experiment. 

So let’s say No, together. Let’s say no to the things and people and places that do not bring us joy. Let’s let go of “should”. And let’s do it without FOMO!

Some of my favorite resources for learning how to say no graciously and without FOMO:

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