Why You Should Say No

We are on an endless journey of self discovery. It's almost as if during our adult years we are simply working back to reach a state of pure happiness, sense of freedom and confidence in ourselves that we once experienced during our adolescent years. This is prominently seen in our professional lives that is shaped by work culture and our struggle to say "No" out of fear we will miss out on a great opportunity.

Work culture can heavily influence who we are, our thoughts and attitudes towards ourselves and the world around us. For example, it is sadly far too common for people to overload on tasks or to take on additional responsibilities beyond the capacity of our role due to pressure from our work colleagues (or often times our managers or supervisors), so that we feel we are meeting their expectations. Yet the solution to such a problem is to simply say No. So why don't we say No more often? This likely happens because it is far easier for us to measure the consequences of saying No to a new project, even though we're already overloaded with tasks, than to perceive the negative outcomes of taking on an additional work burden. We end up pushing ourselves as we feel pressured by those around us to continually do more and therefore achieve more.

"Focus is saying no to the good ideas." — Steve Jobs

We may allow ourselves to be overburdened by work responsibilities as we think we might miss out on something great by saying No to a new project. However, as Steve Jobs once said "focus is saying no to the good ideas". This quote highlights that we shouldn't feel guilty over our decision to decline additional responsibilities or take on new projects. While we may gain something from taking on the additional workload, the consequence we pay for this is often seen in other areas of our lives. We can neglect getting proper sleep, not spending enough time with our loved ones or eating nutritiously poor meals. The accumulative effect of which negatively affects our mental health and sense of self worth.

By saying No we are not letting down the people we decline, but rather we are actually respecting ourselves and them. We are saying that l cannot divide my time any further without affecting my current responsibilities and that l have already committed myself to such projects. We are saying that we wish to favour quality over quantity and want to allocate the tasks we've agreed upon, the time they deserve to be completed to our standards. We are choosing our own mental wellbeing rather than overburdening ourselves and likely not completing the additional tasks we've taken on to the standards we desire.

We can empower ourselves and therefore our sense of self by saying No to the often many opportunities to take on new projects or tasks beyond our mental capacity. This is largely influenced by our work culture where we are pressured to do more and the idea of saying No means you're not a hard worker and we feel guilty. However, we must not allow our own mental health to be dictated by those around us and we must summon the courage to say No to protect ourselves.

This post was written to support World Mental Health Day. "Look after your mental health, Australia." ... Illustration by Victoria Holmes on Skribbl.

Mahmoud A. Al-Dabbas

Mahmoud A. Al-Dabbas

Hi! My name is Mahmoud and l work in Clinical Trials in the areas of Endometriosis, Idiopathic Male Factor Infertility, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Type 2 Diabetes.
Sydney, Australia