Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Earlier this month, I read seven novels in two weeks—four for book clubs and three because I committed to write reviews.
I love to read, but a book every other day—what was I thinking? Reading at that pace felt too much like work.
And, speaking of work.
Like retired people do, since “sort of” retiring almost two years ago, I joined a few new social groups. Pretty quickly, I was “invited” to chair committees—an honor than in social-group-speak means you get to do more work.
I used to fantasize about all the free time I’d have in retirement. Turns out, having the gift of time depends on how well I say NO.
Saying no has never been my strong suit. I’m more the over-commit-to-the-point-of-burn-out type.
I want retirement to be different—to stop multi-tasking, be present in the moment, and savor one thing at a time.
Sure I want to read good books, meet new people, and make a contribution. The trick is finding balance that leaves downtime to have fun, revel in life’s everyday simple joys, and savor quiet time with Jim.
Finding balance means following my instinct and NOT saying yes when my gut is screaming, say no, say no, SAY NO. Here are a few things I’m learning help me follow my gut.
·        Know your purpose – Do you know the 80/20 Rule? Basically it says that 80% of value comes from 20% of “stuff.”
Once you figure out what gives you the most value and joy in you life, hone in on the handful (20%) of things that bring you the most joy (80%). Say yes to the stuff that lines up with the 20% and graciously say (gulp) no to all the rest.   

·        When Saying No is Saying Yes – It can be hard to say no, especially to someone you care for and don’t want to disappoint. It helps to remember that saying no to stuff that brings you less value means you give yourself the gift of time to say yes to the people and things that matter most.    

·        Say No with grace – To avoid feeling cornered into impulsively or guiltily saying yes, a template or script helps. Something like, I appreciate your confidence in me. It’s just not the right time for me to do this. Keep it simple, kind, and sincere.
Time is infinite and precious. As hard as it is to say no, it’s worth the effort when it leaves me the time to say Yes, Yes, Yes to the people and things that matter most.
How about you?
  • Are you overwhelmed with holiday drama and demands yet?
  • Do you ever say Yes when No is better for you?
  • What advice can you share about kind and graceful ways to say NO?


  1. Carol,

    I love the saying no with grace response. It reminded me of a recent experience at work where it was assumed I would lead something because I did it before. It was social not work related so I felt within my rights to decline. I blurted out a "no thanks" before I recovered and said. "I think it would be nice to give someone else that experience." Not exactly kind and graceful but I was so glad I made my escape.

    I think it's also useful to remind your readers to save time for nothing in their lives. Having alone time to meditate, pray, read or exercise can be nourishing.

    Looking forward to the holidays but also the time just after when all the decorations are put away and I am back to normal. Hope we have a snow day sometime soon too.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.


  2. Chris, the thing I like best about saying no, it's just not the right time, is it leaves the door open. I may feel differently later.
    Your response to give someone else the experience sounds pretty graceful to me :)