A Courageous Yes & A Confident (Gracious) No

Jul 11

A Courageous Yes and A Confident No

Should not come as a surprise that I love to make people happy. I love to make someone’s life easier and their environment less stressful. I love to problem solve. Helping people gives me all the good feels. I grew up in a home where we volunteered – a lot. So much so that during my teen years I fought with my mom every weekend when she woke us at 8am to do good somewhere. I’m sure I wasn’t any more / less irritable than your average teenager. Ha! Anyway, no one was shocked to realize I landed in the business of helping people based on my upbringing. And when you’re a helper type, it’s difficult to find the balance between a courageous yes and a confident no.

My job prior to being a professional organizer was working as a Program Director for a non-profit agency. I helped connect low-income and homeless families to resources for food and housing. My parents played a big role in molding that “helper” mentality. And while I love my mom more than words (she is likely reading this), I also learned from her how to not say no. #doormat She did and still does it all…to the detriment of her health and well-being, in my opinion. Growing up my brother, sister and I were conditioned to be the same. Not to totally throw her under the bus by saying that – on the contrary. Love her drive and passion for helping others. But it’s true that as a result for me, saying “no” has been a huge struggle in my life. And it can come at the risk of occasionally losing myself, my family or my overall vision.

My small business has been booming this year and am so grateful. It’s been a lot of grit, hard work and investment to get here. But totally admit, I am (trying to get to a place of “was”!) having an issue saying no because I worry about the valleys of owning a small business. Right now it’s booming, but what about 2 months from now? What about 6 months? I’ve had weeks here and there where business was crickets … and I’ve come to learn this is normal for most professional organizers. It’s feast or famine.

Beyond my small business, this is a huge struggle for me personally. I’m sure the moms reading can relate to the school volunteer needs nowadays, just for starters. There’s requests from friends, family and church too.

It’s just so hard to say no.

A few weeks ago I discovered this amazing book – The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst …

You guys know I love listening to podcasts while I organize. For a few days, I took a break from podcasts and instead listened to the audio version of this book. It’s Ah-maz-ing. Seriously. Am I cured? NO! These changes take time and one needs to build their confidence in saying their best yes and confident, yet kind, no. But this book certainly put it all in perspective and has given me the framework to pay attention to my needs, vision and the needs of those impacted by my choices. And it’s helped me check myself. Which clearly needs to be done more often than not. I have an abnormal amount of energy and want to do it all.

My brain needs to check in with my heart before saying yes or no. And of course, I need to check my schedule and other responsibilities in my life. As the author says, if you aren’t careful saying yes can invite crazy into your life. While you think saying yes means you’re doing the right thing, often times that isn’t the case. It could possibly be the one added chore that pushes you over the edge…or contributes to another ball dropping for something you also deemed important to get done.

There were so many great pieces of information and quotes for thought in this book that I then searched my local library for the hard copy. The hard copy has a few worksheets in the back which I wanted to make copies of. The audio book is great and I clipped many little pieces of the audio to revisit whenever I want, but if you want those little worksheets too – consider the hard copy. I did write down a few things to share with you guys. Recently I’ve blogged about productivity and periscoped about not taking on more than we can handle. I love when the author says…

“Remember that whenever you say yes to something, there is less of YOU for something else.”

So true!

Another one that caused me to pause…”Make sure your yes is worth the less.”.


Not sure if this rings true for you, but what I need to practice is saying no to that awkward feeling inside. When I say no, I’m later filled with guilt or I internalize the awkward disappointment I sense in their response. I’m letting their response affect me and what I know I can / can’t do. We need to practice being solid in our confidence behind our answer…but it needs to go even deeper. It’s a matter of being more certain of your convictions.

And at its simplest form, I always know when I’m giving that answer whether I can truly get it done or not. In the past I would ignore that feeling and just get it done. But many times not following that gut feeling (or true feeling!) meant I was wasting precious time / money. Clearly that example is in regards to my business. There’s a lot of “gray” in being a professional organizer. With my recent booked schedule, I’ve been pushed to the brink of finally defining what is black and what is white. What I do. What I don’t do. And if I do it, it’s defined and it has a price tag. No more doing / helping for the sake of not letting someone down. Ultimately, I’m the one left feeling terrible and it generally affects my family and our schedule. And it makes me appear as if I don’t have a solid business running. If I’m saying yes sometimes and no other times, my clients will be confused. Or if I do the task this time but next time say “I don’t do that anymore”…that’s odd.

So now what?

To get started, a good thing to practice is saying no in a way that feels comfortable to you. Find out what statement makes you feel better about saying no. One that doesn’t need much explanation or leave it too open-ended that people can poke holes. In the book there was an example given of “I’m sorry, but I can’t give it the attention it deserves.”. That’s a great one! I have created a few for either business or personal, but this one I’ve been using successfully is up for the taking = “I can’t explain right now, but it’s not a good time for me to take on that xyz.”.

My issue is that I tend to say a very kind, gracious no but apparently have surrounded myself with strong friendships that follow up my “no” with another way of swaying me into a yes. Some personality types are just like that. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. But it can be a very bad thing when you find yourself being pulled in a thousand directions by friends, family or co-workers because you couldn’t find the courage to say your no statement. My suggestion is to write down a statement that works for you and keep it close-by for a while. Maybe in your cell phone notes section or on a notepad near your home phone / computer. Practice makes perfect. Practice will give you the confidence going forward.

The author also suggests you can start by giving a small no answer, while simultaneously giving a best yes answer. An example that came to mind for me would be if you can’t make 500,000,000 rice krispy treats by 8am tomorrow morning for the class party (ahem), you instead can buy some of the ingredients later today while you’re at the grocery store. You were already going to be there and it would be easy to pick up an ingredient. But you certainly don’t have the time to make that many this evening. So don’t say yes or feel strong-armed into doing it. You can offer to do something else that you actually can accomplish without affecting the rest of your day and sending your family into a tailspin because now you’re stuck in the kitchen for hours. And you’re attitude about not feeling confident enough to say no will certainly show through. haha!

The good news is you have a choice.

The bad news is you have a choice.

But the best part is that you are going to be staying genuine and true to yourself. There are consequences to every choice we make…even the good choices. But I’d like to challenge you to be honest with yourself. Especially those who are enjoying these last few weeks of summer…those school papers are going to be rolling in soon asking for help. I’d love to see all of you take a moment to really understanding the amount of time you have to help. What’s realistic. That way when the papers come home you can find little jobs here and there that actually DO fit with your vision and won’t affect you / those depending on you. It’s ok to pump the brakes, you guys!

This book was such a great read! You can find it here on Amazon for less than $10 – and tomorrow is Prime Day! Woot!

*affiliate link was used for your convenience

Tagged in:

comments +

  1. Lrey says:

    What an inspiring review and personal application! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. I think living in a wealthy (compared with most of the world) country in the twenty first century has made saying No an issue for just about all Americans! Saying Yes confidently and No graciously are definitely skills that we must practice and improve. I’ll definitely be reading!

    • Samantha says:

      Thank you!!! I plan to share more book reviews as I’ve been reading about topics we can all benefit from…especially parenting / social media. Yikes!! 🙂 haha!

      Thank you so much!!!!


  2. Bethany says:

    Excellent post. I agree that there are always things to be done and people to please, but we have to make “best yes” choices. Thank you for sharing.

  3. What part of No do they not understand says:

    I don’t have an issue with saying no. I long ago burnt out trying to be everything to everyone. I DO however resent when my no is not acceptable. I think of an instance a few months ago when I was told / asked by my manager to cover a shift the next day ( less than 24 hours notice ) I said no – I had 2 medical appointments scheduled and both have fees for cancelling without at least 24 hours notice / I AM NOT prepared to come in to work to lose money and a day off.( the fees for cancelling would have been $10 more than my gross pay for that day) I book my personal stuff well ahead of time for my days off and didn’t appreciate a quite threatening meeting where I was told my manager wants/expects “flexible” staff….( hint I may find someone else if you don’t drop everything when I ” need ” you) I certainly have had many extremely busy days there, run off my feet,when others have booked their stuff on work days, or been sick or on holidays. I have a husband who insists I work outside the home but then complains I don’t do enough with our kids and say no to field trips ect. (sorry but 1- I may be at work outside the home and2-some one needs to keep the house running-do the laundry and cooking which he seems to think will just magically be done while I go on activities-& No he won’t do an part of it- He will try to bully with phrases like ” Why’d you have kids if you don’t want to do anything with them – His days off are on weekends so he is never pressured to do this sort of volunteering and is actually quite angry when he has to take the kids to weekend activities( that he has signed them up for) expecting some how I will be able to do this around my job outside the home which involves weekend shifts
    . I just wish more people understood NO( and that is it . End of the conversation. No means no- now shut up and ask someone else, do without, or do it yourself)

  4. JenM says:

    Reading this a year later, this is exactly where I am now. Taking stock. My husband would say, “you can’t put 10 lbs of flour in a 5 lb bag.” He understood something I didn’t. I love to help other people. It’s more enjoyable to do the stuff you GET to do, as opposed to the stuff you HAVE to do.

    I have a friend who speaks grace and truth into my life. She reminds me that as a widowed mom, when I give of my time and energy to everybody else’s needs, there is that much less of me available for my kids. I’m reading this article at the right time and will be ordering Lysa’s book. Thanks.

I'd Love To Hear From You!



terms of service & privacy policy


© Samantha Pregenzer | Bay Area, California