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How Saying NO Pays Higher Returns

If saying NO is so good for us, and creating healthy boundaries improves our quality of life, then why is it so darn difficult?

The answer is simple: we receive a payoff when we please others. 

We feel a sense of accomplishment, pride, and gratification when we help others.  It feels good to check tasks off our list.  And who doesn’t like to receive kudos and recognition for hard work?

Here’s a beautiful example of this payoff pressure that occurred in a recent coaching session.

Me: So, last week you mentioned how you need to say no to requests and projects at work that are taking you away from your primary responsibilities.  How did that go?

Client: Yeah.  It went good.  I said no to two people who asked me for help on their projects. 

Me: Wow, that’s really great!  But your voice doesn’t sound very enthusiastic.  What are you feeling?

Client: Well, I know it was the right decision.  I don’t have the bandwidth to work on these other projects.  I referred one of them to another manager who could help with her project and didn’t have any advice for the other request.  I know I could have helped move both forward.

Me: I can understand that.  You have the desire and expertise to help, but you don’t have the time.

Client: Yeah.  I could really make a difference in sharing my knowledge, and it would give me a real sense of accomplishment.  It makes me feel a little sad and disappointed to let those opportunities go.

Me: What you are feeling is perfectly normal.  You are making a choice to focus your time and energy on your primary responsibilities.  Tell me again why this is important to you.

Client: My department has set some pretty high sales goals that need to be met.  I also need more work/life balance.  I want to travel and enjoy my weekends without thinking about work.  I would also like to take some training to improve my skills. 

Me: It sounds like you are making choices that will improve your overall quality of life.  How are you feeling about making this choice?

Client: It’s the right choice for me.  Though I felt sad to say no to my colleagues, I also felt a weight lift off my shoulders.  It was a relief to let those requests go. 

As high achieving people pleasers, we are known for being reliable, capable, and available.  Others depend on us to always say yes.  And we derive great satisfaction from being the go-to person, the person that gets things done.

We are so used to that instant gratification that we forget, or never realize, there is another payoff.  When we choose to put ourselves first, we begin to create life on our terms.

Being Thoughtfully Selfish rewards us with:  a higher quality of life, relief from pressure, control over our time, better relationships, less stress, and the space to achieve more. 

We must let go of the short-term payoff, for the future benefit.  Saying NO is playing the long game.  It’s investing in the bigger picture of what you want your life to look like down the road.

What can you say NO to today, that will pay you 10x greater in the future? 

For more tips and tricks to Create Healthy Boundaries and Say NO With Confidence, download my free People Pleaser's Toolkit and begin practicing today.  

If you have questions about how Thoughtfully Selfish Coaching works, visit or if you are ready to talk 1:1 click here to schedule a 30-minute discovery chat with me.