How to Say NO! and Save Your Sanity

Sometimes our most powerful disappointments are actually blessings in disguise.

Last month I was approached by a popular website that I admire very much. They loved my work and wanted me to write content for their new app. I would get credit and my voice would be used—how insanely cool!

“Yes!” I squealed. It never occurred to me to say no.

I could just imagine how this opportunity would boost my business and open me up to a much wider audience. And it was such an honor just to be asked to contribute.

But then things started to go downhill.

I was smack-dab in the middle of creating and marketing the 2015 Edited Year Planner, Chris was away for a week on a business trip, and I was struggling to keep up with my client calls and blogging.

Oh, and Skyla was puking all over the house too.

Yeah…it was a little nutty.

Any normal person would have realized that this was not an ideal time to take on new responsibilities. But I’m a tightly wound Type A who thrives on packing my schedule, sometimes to my own detriment.

Thank goodness I came to my senses and remembered the Life Editing Process, and more specifically, Step 2 Delete Bad Influences. It was time to say no.

As much as it crushed me, I knew that this new business opportunity was a bad influence. At least right now.

Here’s the thing. If I truly believe in abundance (and I do!), then I needed to trust that other opportunities would present themselves in the future.

I sent the company a thoughtful, gracious email and turned down the content creation position. Sure, in a few months I’ll feel a bit sad when another life coach gets all the glory. But my sanity and white space are more important.

Do you need to say no to a few obligations in your life?

Here are some compelling reasons to say no and avoid burnout.

Say NO! to Inconvenient Opportunities

Writing and recording content for a new app for a popular self-development website seems like a dream come true. Who would turn down an opportunity to get more traffic and clients?

This is why deciding on your main priorities in your life is so crucial. My family will always come before my business, and I wasn’t about to lose my precious and limited time with Chris and Skyla.

Saying no to a good (but inconvenient) opportunity is sort of like an “It’s not you; it’s me” situation.

Say NO! to Non-Ideal Clients

A few times when I’ve been on a free Life Editing Strategy Call, we’ve come to the end and I can hear alarm bells going off in my mind. I know that this person is NOT an ideal client, and I’ll regret every minute of our time together if I take them on.

So I send them on their way with love.

It can be hard for entrepreneurs to say no to non-ideal clients, especially if you’re in startup mode and needed to be making money yesterday. But lousy clients drain your energy and waste your time. The money you could earn from a bad client isn’t worth it.

Say NO! to Unfulfilling Careers

Many of my clients have corporate careers that aren’t filling them with glee anymore. Staying in a job you hate is a miserable way to live your life.

I like to start with having my clients list their “must haves” and “must NOT haves” in their ideal careers. These could be things like needing a short commute or refusing to take a job that requires travel.

Your requirements will be unique to you, but once you know what your career standards are, it’s easier to hone in on the jobs to apply to and say no to the ones that will eventually drive you crazy.

Say NO! to Toxic People

You know exactly who I’m talking about. Those Debbie Downers, back-stabbers, saboteurs, and bitches who don’t deserve a single second of your time.

If they’re not adding value to your life, then you shouldn’t invite them and their negativity into your world. I realize that this is usually easier said than done, but even setting up simple boundaries can be a vast improvement.

Check out my ebook How to Remove Toxic People From Your Life for more info on handling these poisonous people. This ebook is one of dozens of free resources in the Editor’s Toolkit.

Say NO! to Unhealthy Behaviors

Happiness guru Gretchen Rubin likes to say she’s an abstainer—someone who completely cuts out unhealthy behaviors, habits, foods, etc. It’s easier for her to avoid those bad influences altogether than trying to have a moderation approach.

I consider myself an abstainer too. If you’re trying to lose weight, it might be easier to say no to purchasing chips and cookies than trying to eat just a few. If you’re starting a business, you’ll stay healthier and less stressed if you say no to working on weekends.

When was the last time you said no to something?

In the comments below, share how you’ll reclaim your time, energy, and sanity by saying no—and then do it!

This post focuses on Step 2 of the Life Editing Process, Delete Bad Influences. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

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Dump your excuses, transform your habits, and become the most productive person you know.


  1. Dana Lynn Thompson on December 15, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Love this post Sage! It took several years of being miserable and stressed out for me to recognize that I needed to say no to opportunities that weren’t right for me. Now I find that when I turn down a new web design client based on my schedule being overly full or because I don’t feel like I can provide them with what they need, they are actually very grateful for my honesty. Some of those clients I have turned down have referred me to other clients and have even come back to me with other jobs when the time was right. Believing in abundance was a big step for me in this process. Thanks for the reminder that it is OK to say no!

    Dana 🙂

  2. Ame on December 12, 2014 at 2:31 am

    Hi Sage!

    You can never get enough of this message. It happens to me that sometimes you don’t realise about it until you’re inside the hurricane of stuff and things-to-do. I have to say it calms me down to know that this can happen to anybody. We’re fighting the same fights, right?

    I’ve seen you several times in CL courses and I feel I know you already. First time I write here and will connect with this community more often.

    Thanks for this web and the work you do 🙂

  3. Librada on December 11, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Hello, this is spot on. My first year in business I spent saying yes to every opportunity that came my way because I wanted to be of service. Reflecting on that year I realized that I was working harder and not smarter. Since then I have continued to focus on identifying my goals and sticking to them. This year I have decided that focused growth and expansion will be my theme. So, with this in mind I am already identifying what are those things that I will say no to, what I need to shift and make part time and those that I do want to go after. Thanks for sharing your tips, the great resources and such a relevant post!

  4. Erika on December 9, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Saying “no” is tough, Sage! But you are a good role-model for saying “no” when it is the right thing to do. Kudos to you for being strong and sticking to your priorities!

    I find that saying “no” when I’ve said “yes” in the past is really hard. Thinking about it as “boundaries” really helps, though.

    Great post!

    • Sage Grayson on December 10, 2014 at 9:57 am

      It sounds strange, but boundaries actually give you more freedom. It is tough, but keep saying NO! and it will get easier. 🙂

  5. Jen Scerri on December 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I really love this Sage, thanks for the reminder. It feels so scary to no to big opportunities, but like you, I am about abundance. thanks for the reminder and very happy holidays! xoxo, Jen

    • Sage Grayson on December 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      You’re so welcome, Jen! Happy holidays to you too. 🙂

  6. Emily @ Words I Wheel By on December 9, 2014 at 9:27 am

    This post came at such a good time, because I’m learning the art of saying no.

    • Sage Grayson on December 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Thanks, Emily. The more things you say no to, the more time you’ll have for the things that really matter.