There’s so much pressure in a new year to do everything right. We start off with these goals and plans for ourselves and how we’re going to achieve our dreams. But I think it’s just as important to use the new year as a reset — a time to look at how we live our lives and see what needs to go. It feels really good to go through an old junk drawer or a car cubby and find tons of things to get rid of, and I think it can feel the same way to metaphorically do this in our lives.
Reflecting on last year, these are five things I’m working on saying “no” to this year.
- Saying no to second-guessing myself
I can be an overthinker and second-guess myself, wondering if I’m really ready to do something or if I have the knowledge and skills I need. But I love Alexia Sparks’ advice in her Her Campus article: you can’t let your doubts hold you back from getting started, because you’ll never feel 100% ready. Say goodbye to that little voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough and get started!
- Saying no to free work (when it should be paid)
Now, I’m not saying that you should never volunteer or do unpaid internships. As long as the experience is providing you with value and opportunities, and you’re happy, then you keep doing you! I’m talking about situations where you’re working hard and getting nothing in return. Maybe you’re not being paid, or maybe you’re not receiving the mentorship, training or supervision you need. Last year, I learned to say no to unpaid opportunities which seemed at the beginning to provide good value but turned out to steal my time and energy.
- Saying no to hustle culture
Getting enough sleep, eating sustaining meals, getting water and practicing self-care aren’t luxuries. They’re necessities. I’m learning to say no to environments where productivity is glorified at the expense of self-care. And I’m recognizing that people who brag about how little sleep they’re functioning on or the insane number of hours they worked are perpetuating a toxic culture. (And I’m holding myself accountable too, to not glorify hustle culture.)
- Saying no to other people’s goals for my life
There’s so much pressure, in college especially, to plan everything out. Picking your major, getting internships and work experience, building a resume, earning certifications and the list goes on. Setting goals is good; it gives us direction and purpose. But we need to say no to putting goals before ourselves as human beings or to building our lives and identities around professional goals. I love Avery Worley’s Her Campus article about the importance of building your life around your passions. Your passion and what impact you want to make in this world drive you to set goals specific to who you are.
We have to say no to achieving goals at the expense of our mental health or to just accepting goals that others think we should achieve.
- Saying no to one-sided or toxic relationships
Emma Joseph brings up really important points about toxic relationships in her Her Campus article about the truths of healing. Saying no to toxic relationships is really hard, especially when you trusted those people and have to come to terms with them no longer in your life. You might feel like you’re being selfish or mean; but at the end of the day, if that other person does not have your best interests at heart, then they aren’t worthy of you. You deserve people who love and respect you.
Saying no gets a bad rap. Most of us want to be people-pleasers and say yes to situations and opportunities that come up. But there are lots of times when saying no is the best thing for you and your health. Remember that you matter, and you have every right to say no to toxic situations, mindsets and people.