Do you find it difficult to say “No”? 3 tips to make it easier

Do you often have a diary crisis?  Do you find your schedule is manic? Does it cause you stress wondering how you can get everything done in the day, week, month or year?  In today’s busy world, you are not alone!  One important way to manage your schedule better is to get better at saying “No”. So why is it so difficult to do?

In the past in my career as a Finance Transformation Manager, I have taken on too much work and this has had a negative impact on me.  I would work longer hours trying to squeeze it in, start to worry about it all which affects my sleep and my well-being, has a knock on effect to my family and it is the start of a very slippery slope.  And so I am much more careful about saying “No” nowadays.

So what makes it difficult to say No? 

Well it is usually our values or beliefs.  Perhaps helping others is an important value for you and therefore you want to do this as much as possible.  Perhaps there is some guilt about rejecting a person if you say no; a feeling that you are hurting the other person, letting them down or that they may perceive you as uncaring or unhelpful. Or perhaps you have this view that you can do it all or maybe you can play the martyr or victim because you have so much to do.

What happens when you are asked to do something that you dont really have time to do or even want to do is you may:-

  • say “Yes” when you mean “No.
  • respond ineffectively suggesting an alternative which keeps the opportunity open
  • not respond at all keeping the other person hanging on waiting for answer.

3 tips to help say “No”

If this is a problem that you face here are 3 key tips to help you:-

1. Be assertive, courteous and say “No”

You can say something like “Thank you for asking me. I’m sorry, I can’t help you currently but I will let you know if, and when, I can”.  This approach is polite, clear and also empowers you to make a different decision in the future.

2. Pass on to someone else

You can say something like “Thank you for asking me. I’m sorry, I can’t help you currently but I know someone else who may be able to help you”. This approach is helpful providing the person with another source of assistance.

3. Set the appropriate boundaries

You can say something like “Thank you for asking me. I’m sorry, I can’t help do what you are asking but I could do this instead”.  This approach again empowers you to tell the person what you are prepared to do; maybe changing the timescale or the amount or type of work involved.

All of these responses put you in the driving seat over your time and availability and give a clear direction to the other person. 

It is also good to consider this from the other persons perspective. Wouldn’t you want to be told “No” and find another way forward rather than being kept dangling or find that you are creating unnecessary pressure?  I know I would!

In the words of Steve Jobs “It’s only by saying No that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

I wonder what things you could concentrate on that are really important to you…

Tracy, Your Catalyst for Change

“Have you got around to it yet? Or are you still putting it off?”

Today, I weeded the garden.  Not a big deal you might say but I’d been putting it off and putting it off.

I didn’t want to do it and the weeds were growing bigger and bigger and the problem got bigger and bigger in my mind too.

Each time I left the house or came home, I would see the weeds taking over the front garden and when I looked out of the kitchen window I would see them strangling the flowers in the back garden and I would get annoyed with myself that I had not tackled the job.  I would say things like “I really should pull those weeds out” or “I must do that weeding soon”.  And yet saying these things were not motivating me to do the job!

3 tips to doing those jobs you don’t want to do.

  • Focus on the outcome. I was thinking about the problem; the job of weeding and I was putting pressure on myself to do the work by saying “I should” or “I must”.  When you change your thinking to being outcome focussed, then the job is not so difficult.  I focussed on how it would be when I was able to look out of the kitchen window and see the flowers flourishing and how it would be to notice the plants when I came home rather than the weeds.  When you think about the outcome, there is more motivation to get the work done.
  • How can you make it easier? It was a lovely sunny day so it would be far more enjoyable spending the time in the garden today rather than another day when it is cold or wet.  So I decided that it would be worth getting some Vitamin D and play some music while I was doing the job.  Both of those things made it a more enjoyable task.
  • Who can help or keep you company? If you can find somebody to do the work with and keep you company; that makes the job easier too.  I suggested to my hubby that we could get it done twice as quickly together and then we could go and do what we wanted.

In the end, it really didn’t take very long.  It was actually the thought of doing it that was worse.  Once you take the first step, it’s not so bad.

What are you not doing?  What are you putting off? Use these 3 tips to focus your mind on getting those things done that you haven’t got around to doing yet!


Do you want to find out how to take control of your life and take responsibility for what you really want!

If you would like to understand more about how NLP can help, sign up to my website or come along to one of my events.  Like riding a bike, you can learn how to do it by reading a book, you can listen to a webinar but the real power of NLP is in experiencing it for yourself.

So come and give it a go and Discover the Power of You!


Tracy Ward

Tracy Ward; Your Catalyst for Change


“Golf – A game of mindset; just like life”

Whilst watching the Ryder Cup over the weekend, I thought “Wow, golf is a game of mindset” and I thought about how it is a metaphor for life in general.

With most sports you don’t have time to think, it is about reacting in the moment. It may be that the ball is moving or your opponent is moving and so this impacts on how you play the game. In golf, your opponent’s successes or failures may influence your choice of shot in a match play situation but you always have plenty of time to focus on what shot to play and how to play it. This is one of the reasons golf is a very difficult game to play because you need to handle the pressure, your emotions and manage your mindset.

I learned to play golf 30 years ago and the first time I played on a proper course with other people, my first tee shot was a real shocker; it landed on the 18th green and people were putting on it! That would not have been so bad except there were lots of players waiting to follow us and there were a number of “tuts” from those around me. My confidence was completely knocked and since that time, I would be very nervous on the first tee and whenever I did a bad shot I would imagine “tuts” from others and I would question whether I was good enough to be on the golf course.

This would then spiral into other negative emotions where I would start to curse, maybe swear, maybe even throw my clubs around and then I would get very angry with myself and my bad behaviour. It almost became a ritual. It seemed that I would have to go through that negative process before I could start to accept that it was just a game and a bit of fun and then I seemed to play better.

So how can you manage your mindset and your emotions on the golf course?

Here are 3 tips to manage your mindset on the golf course which are just as valuable in eveyday life

1)     Reduce the tension. If you are carrying tension in your body, particularly the top half, it is very difficult to connect with the ball in the correct place and at the right angle. So focus on taking a deep breath before you step up to take your shot and shrug your shoulders and then push them down and purposefully relaxing any tension in the shoulders.  Such simple actions with a huge impact and notice how much cleaner you strike the ball.

2)     Focus on the target; fairways and greens. So often I hear my golfing colleagues say, “I always go in that bunker on this hole” or “I can never get it over the water”.  You may think “I keep slicing it”. When you comment on the hazards, it draws attention to them so they are in your mind and your unconscious will focus on going in the bunker or the water (the same for your slice). So keep your attention on the fairways and greens and visualise the flight of the ball and where you want to pitch the ball. Your unconscious will aim to deliver that through the correct physical swing.

3)     Concentrate on the present. Once you have a done a poor shot (and we all will!) it is important to change the attention to what you can control at that moment. Firstly, your emotions by controlling your breathing and walking tall to keep a feeling of confidence. Then, you can focus on what you can do with your next shot. I always have a few sayings to myself such as “This looks like a good skills test” as that helps me to focus on what I have to do.

So when your game is a bit awry ask yourself “What can I do about that?” The more you are able to let go of the mistakes you have made, forget the impact that may have on your score and focus purely on the present the stronger your game will be.

The person who can maintain their thoughts in the present throughout the 18 holes or the competition is the one who is likely to rise above the rest.

And it is the same approach to take for life in general.

If you want to know more about managing your mindset, please contact me

Tracy Ward

Your Catalyst for Change