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I Practiced Saying No for a Week and It Was Actually Really Satisfying

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If time really is money, I’m broke. Roughly 10 hours a day, Monday through Friday, are zapped just from work alone—commute included. Add another hour and a half when you include workouts and the extra shower that comes with them. On top of that regularly scheduled stuff, there’s weekly obligations and errands (getting groceries and cleaning the apartment), and a pile of event invites—a boxing class to test out the latest badass line of workout wear (Heck, yeah!), or a trainer friend wants us to come check out her new workout (of course!). Then, there’s the attempt at a social life, which admittedly, as of late has been the first thing to go. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I’m currently planning my wedding…that’s less than a month away. (So, no. I don't have time to mediate or for self-care bubble baths, right now.)

To say I’m stretched thin would be an understatement, but the truth is, when I look at all my “obligations” or “work” or “things to check off the to-do list,” I really can’t complain. Having to get up in the morning for a job you really enjoy is a luxury I know many people don’t have. The trick to really enjoying everything though—whether that’s pretty wedding details or a new workout—is knowing when to say yes, and more importantly, when to say no. I’m not always so good at the latter. (This is actually the reason I decided to focus on sticking to my own workout schedule for my Personal Best resolution this year.)

I know I’m not alone. Everyone usually knows a “giver” in their circle. These are the people who you’d likely call selfless because they will always pick up your cousin’s boyfriend from the airport even if they have a million other things going on. And we can’t forget about the people who are trapped in a FOMO spiral—those friends who say yes to everything for fear of missing out on some epic adventure. (Spoiler: It’s usually just a typical Friday night out.) I don’t think I fall into either of these categories, but I still find it hard to carve out time for me.

So, for a whole week, I started saying 'no' to the things I didn't really need to do, and come the weekend, I found a sincere sense of balance. Take a quick look inside my 'week of no,' and perhaps you’ll find it a little easier to turn stuff down too.

Monday

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I don’t usually talk affectionately about Mondays, but this was a good one. And it wasn’t because something particularly noteworthy happened. In fact, nothing happened, and that’s kind of the point. It was a normal Monday. I got up, went to work, cleared my inbox the best I could, and went to the gym in the evening. I had a great workout—Monday workouts are THE BEST at setting your intentions for the week—and never felt rushed. I didn’t need to run 10 blocks (literally) to my spin studio in order to make the 6:30p.m. class that I signed up for, and I didn’t breeze through my last set at the gym because I planned to go over the rehearsal dinner menu later with my fiance. I said no to class obligations and wedding planning pressure for the day—success.

Tuesday

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I was invited to a press breakfast with a healthy chef this morning and discussed going with a coworker, but I said no and felt totally OK with it (despite the free, yummy breakfast). I knew I had to leave the office early that day for a dress fitting and getting in late from an event certainly wouldn't help me clear my inbox or get through a pile of edit assignments on my desk. When it came time to meet my mom who was visiting for the day at the fitting, I felt thankful I was able to check off so many boxes at work. It allowed me to put my phone away and really enjoy our time together instead of answering emails at dinner. 

Wednesday

I’m not going to bore you with Wednesday. It was much like Monday, which is exactly how I planned for it to be. I said no to a random workout event for later that day because, well, it was so missable that I don’t even remember what it was. #NoRegrets. 

Thursday

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Oftentimes, prior obligations—work, social, wedding, or otherwise—force me to fit in a workout wherever and however I can, but today, I made my workout a real priority. It might seem like such a small win, but being able to plan ahead in order to make it to a Wet Barre cardio class at my nearby Local Barre, which I rarely am able to schedule around, felt like a huge accomplishment. With my workout done for the day, I was able to keep the productivity flowing in the office and finally make time for some laundry at home later. I was starting to get the hang of this time management thing.

 

Friday

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My week of no was about to go out with a bang. The Shape Squad was invited to a Barry’s Bootcamp class in the morning to try their new smoothies on the studio menu. I’d almost never pass up a Squad workout. They give us a chance to sweat (~bond) as a group and they make getting up early on a Friday morning so much easier. Full disclosure, it was my first Barry’s class, since running has never been my go-to cardio of choice. But one of my favorite NYC trainer friends was teaching, the whole squad was going, and I mean…smoothies. It’s funny how FOMO can actually work in your favor sometimes. In this case, missing a fun event with the crew was the catalyst to push me outside my comfort zone and spend 60 minutes (off and on) sprinting on a treadmill—I couldn’t tell you the last time I stepped foot on a treadmill. The class was so fun, I felt accomplished, the smoothies were incredible, and I felt great for the rest of the day.

Later that night I had no problem setting aside the to-do list in order to grab drinks with former coworkers I hadn’t seen in a long time. All my hard work saying no (and yes) that week had paid off. Being able to balance my time made catching up over a few beers with old friends at the end of the week taste even sweeter.

Will I be adopting a strict yes/no policy from here on out? Probably not, but I did come away with a couple really valuable tools on balance that I will continue to use. (I still need a little help on this kind of balance.) I can now better define what’s worth it and what’s not, and being able to pass immediately on things instead of flaking or stretching myself thin is actually really freeing. And when I do say yes to things, I know now that it’s because I really want to.

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