Work It Mama: When to Say No

No is a powerful word. Our kids know it very well.  We need to learn it too.

No was one of my daughter’s first words.  It was so easy for her to say – one syllable that means so much.  It means “I don’t wanna, I can’t, I won’t … Just NO!”

But for some reason it is very hard for me to say no to people and to opportunity.  I think it is my constant need to please people, to help and to give, and, well, to achieve.  I love giving of myself to others, I love serving my family, my clients and my community — I love reaching goals and overcoming obstacles.  But recently, as I talked about in my last post, when trying to have it all and when pushing myself as a working mom, sometimes I just have to say no.  Even when it hurts my soul to do so.

Most recently it was turning down some great work opportunities because I just simply could not find the time in the day (unless, I figured, I could find a way to live on three hours of sleep).  But in the past it has included saying no to great volunteer opportunities, attending events and even pursuing a passion or two (those hurt the most).

But in saying “No” I also find freedom.  I find freedom to let go of a burden, let go of responsibility (which is so relieving sometimes) and open myself up to really pursuing my dreams and focusing on what is most important in life at that moment.

So, moving forward I have promised myself that I will try and say no more often so I can open myself up to saying yes to me, to my family and to my dreams.  Yes, this will be soooooooo very hard but I am going to try with a few thoughts in mind:

  • Time is The Currency of Life – In other words, time is life and the time I give to something that may not reach my life goals and that takes me away from my family must be time spent very well.  So, unless spending the time adds value to my life, I will be saying no.
  •  Is the Pain Worth the Gain – As a working mom, I often find myself asking “will this money I am bringing in balance out the physical and mental energy I have to put out?” Meaning: will those moments that I am mentally or physically separated from my family my out-weight what I can do for my family with the money.  But this goes for so many things — volunteer opportunities, social opportunities and even, sometimes, those things set us on the path to our dreams.  They take us away too …
  • Why? – Why do I want to do it – for me, for my dreams, for the money, for the accomplishment, for my family? If I can’t answer that “why” in a way that aligns with my soul, then the answer will be no.

So, how do you say no? When do you say no? Do you struggle with it as I do sometimes?

I want to know what does “no” mean to you.


Julia Montgomery Stewart

Nicknamed “Julia Child” at a young age, our own Julia is most at home in the kitchen. Lately, she has combined her culinary talents with a new hobby—fitness and healthy living. As a result, her recipes reflect an intriguing balance between eating well without sacrificing flavor. Outside the home, Julia is a consummate event planner, and spent the first ten years of her career as a publicist before expanding her portfolio of talents with the launch of Live Pretty in 2010. Balancing the busy demands of career and family, Julia lives with her husband and daughter in Orlando, Florida. In addition to her work in marketing, she serves a number of community organizations and initiatives in Central Florida.

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2 Responses to “Work It Mama: When to Say No”

  1. Melanie — May 28, 2012 @ 11:55 pm (#

    Hi Julia!

    I’ve been looking at your site and found this article soooo helpful! I am the queen of saying “YES” to everything. I think I’ll print this out and post it next to my computer as a reminder to ask myself those questions before I take on something new in the future! Hope you all are doing well! You have such a beautiful family!

    Take care,


    • Julia replied: — June 1st, 2012 @ 8:57 am

      Thank you for sharing! I keep struggling with that each day, but it is always better to focus on your family and you first 🙂

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