We know who they are, and we know if we are one of them. People around them know who they are. It’s the people who everyone goes to for help. Take me to the airport, help me move, can you watch my dog, can you pick me up, etc. etc. The Yes-Zombies, as I like to call them. They are constantly taking on chores for everyone else. They have a circle of people that they are always ‘doing’ for. They make the justification that they are ‘trying to help’ or ‘being a good friend’ or just ‘caring.’ The problem is, it is usually at the expense of their own schedule and the people in their life that do not take advantage of them.

We live in a world where most of us have a lot on our schedule. We have multi-job parents, and multiple children, animals, and friends. With all the events that surround the basics, we should all have busy enough schedules. It is at some cost to you when you are constantly doing for others. Sound selfish? I don’t think you should ALWAYS say no. I just think you need to take some steps to make sure than when you say yes, it is for the right reasons. Here are my top 10 tips on defining your yes’s and no’s and making sure you aren’t a yes-zombie:

1) Set you priorities. This may include your daily calendar or your daily to-do list. But this should be set with things that are a must-do. Obviously with work-related and family-related issues, these things take priority. If you make this list daily, you will be reminded of what you need to do that day and what extra time you may or may not have. If someone asks you for something that you literally just have no time to do, the answer is easy.

2) Stop and Think before you answer. If you have time to help and it doesn’t make something else in your life stressful, then stop and think if you WANT to help or not. It is ok to not want to do something. If you force yourself to do something you don’t want to, you just become bitter or angry anyways. Now I am not talking about helping your family or best friend in a true time of need, I am referring to an acquaintance who is just coming to you because you have typically been the yes man/woman. Think about and decide, you do have a choice.

3) Don’t feel pressured. If someone is making you feel pressured or guilty, then they are just using you anyways and you definitely don’t need to please someone who is taking advantage of you. I had a friend like this one time. You do so much for them, and constantly are there for them, yet the one time you say no (for good reason) they try and lay the guilt on thick. Do not let anyone put guilt or pressure on you. If you feel that emotion, it should almost be a sure sign to say no.

4) We’ve heard the quote ‘No requires no explanation.’ It is true. If you do not have the time to help someone else, you can simply say ‘no.’ It doesn’t need a reason or explanation after. Don’t feel pressured or guilty and think you have to have one.

5) Trust your instinct. There are times when you know you can make time to help or you kind of want to help but just not sure, trust your instinct. We all need to listen to our inner selves more often. Many times we don’t listen when we really know we should have. If you have stopped and thought about your answer, that will typically give your gut instinct time to kick in. Listen to what it says.

6) Remind yourself that saying no doesn’t mean you are being selfish. Some of you die hard yes-zombies are thinking ‘I can’t say no because that is just too selfish.’ Actually it is the person asking you for the favor that many times is the one being selfish. They use tactics mentioned in number 3 to persuade you, but really it is just their selfishness shining through. Chances are, if you are concerned about being selfish, you probably are not ever that way!

7) Find the healthy balance between the yes and no’s in your life. There isn’t an all or nothing mentality here. You need to find the balance. Sometimes you say yes, when it is appropriate, doesn’t stress you, a true friend or family needs help, etc. Other times it is time to say no. When someone is just always using you or taking advantage of you, or when you truly don’t have the time to help. The Ecclesiastes rule ‘there is a time for everything’ holds true. There is a time for yes and a time for no.

8) Be confident in your decision. If you have thought through the answer and it is in line with your instinct and schedule, then be confident in what you have decided. When doubt creeps in your mind, shoo it away and think of something else or remind yourself of why you said no in the first place. We are only human and you have good intentions if you are thinking things through, so remind yourself of these things and stay confident.

9) Focus on how you feel when you say no. No is empowering. It means you are taking control of your life and decisions. It does give you further confidence and helps you feel more empowered each and every time you use the word for the good. Picture people that you know that say yes all the time, or better yet think of how you feel when you say yes and should have said no. It’s stressful and pressure and overwhelming. It takes your power. Remembering and training yourself to say no will give you your power back. Try it! You will see.

10) Don’t think of ‘no’ as a negative. No is absolutely a positive in many instances. Saying no to negativity, laziness, obesity, depression, cheating, lying, smoking, drugs, etc. are all very good things. No is a word that helps you have boundaries and lets you focus on what is important and will help you be a successful employee, parent, wife, husband, mother, father, & friend. It should be thought of as a tool that helps you in every area of life.

Embrace your no. Think about things and find what you are passionate about. Focus on your success and happiness and those whom you love. Learn the power of saying no and don’t become a yes-zombie.

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