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I have to learn when to say ‘no’

All my life I’ve worked hard at planning and organization because these are not my natural strengths. Occasionally someone will mention how organized I am, and I have to chuckle to myself thinking if they only knew! That’s one of the things I enjoy about life. We all have a chance everyday to get better at those things that are our Achilles heel, per se. And I have to admit that I have improved in these areas over the years, but change does not come easily.

One of the things that I’ve trained myself to do is make lists. I do occasionally misplace my list, but just making one helps me to remain focused on the task at hand. At one point in life I was known for taking on too many things and getting overwhelmed with all I had to do.

Thankfully I have learned the art of saying no. I feel for those who out of a sense of guilt or maybe just because they see a need and want to help they say yes without counting the cost. We all have only so much to give and overextending ourselves only leads to frustration and a less than stellar job.

I totally understand this problem because it took me many years and much soul searching to be able to say no. I remember thinking that the particular job might not get done if I didn’t do it. I didn’t do this in a prideful way as if someone couldn’t do the job just as well as I or better; it was out of an overzealous sense of responsibility.

Now I’ve learned that sometimes the very best thing we can do is say no. The lack of the ability to use this simple little word can cause stress and worse. Now, before I take on a project I don’t just ask myself if it is a worthy endeavor, but I also ask myself if I genuinely have the time to devote to the project and see it well done. I also take note to see if it is really in my wheelhouse.

Because I love to meet people and talk, I suppose, I’ve been asked to speak at different events over the years. I have accepted some of these opportunities, and although I didn’t do a bad job, it caused me an inordinate amount of stress. It’s just not my thing to speak in front of a large crowd so I finally decided it was ok to say no to those invites. We all have strengths, and I feel that there is plenty of opportunity to work within our comfort zones.

I do want to mention, however, that God will give us the grace to do whatever He calls us to do whether it’s our thing or not. There is only one time that I remember actually feeling peaceful about speaking in public, and that was once when the kids were small. I directed Bible School and had to speak in front of the church. So … I guess I’ll just say that I think I’ll stay in my comfort zone unless otherwise directed!

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at lilsisjan@yahoo.com.