Take some advice from a former workaholic…

Learning to say “no” at work is fantastic. 

What do I mean by fantastic? I mean liberating. I mean being mentally free from unrealistic expectations and finally embracing that “work-life balance” those HR people speak of.

Now, if you’re like me, you want to give 110% into everything. Being average just doesn’t cut it, especially at performance review time. So how do you say “no” to those extra projects and meetings if you’re trying to progress in your career?

When I was put into this position, I took a step back and looked at my typical week day. I had my work email directly linked to my phone, and I worked in a constant state of fear that my results weren’t at my manager’s standards. My 8-5 was becoming my 7:30-’til, and that’s all I could talk about when I got home. My manager even sat me down one day and said, “I’m worried about your stress level.” But to me, it was all worth it, because in the end, I was working for that next role in my career. I literally convinced myself that being a workaholic and putting my personal life aside meant more success. What kind of life is that?

Learning to say “no” was tough. It meant admitting defeat and that I couldn’t manage my workload, something you never want your manager to think about you. To my surprise, that wasn’t the case at all. I started showing up to work with more energy and was less stressed. I took my full lunch break and left work on time. I was more engaged with my team because I wasn’t as worried about trying to give 5000% of myself on one task. Saying “no” more often meant I actually had to believe that my work was meeting/exceeding expectations. 

Obviously, you can’t say no to everything, and you do have to go above the norm to continue to progress. Here’s some questions to consider when deciding to say “no”:

  1. Will this task/project make or break my career advancement? 
  2. Can I complete this task while still taking breaks in the day and not working over hours?
  3. Will my manager find this worthwhile, or will I be doing this for nothing?
  4. Is this something I’m passionate enough about to take on?
  5. Can/Should someone else be completing this task/project (Can I help out rather than lead?)
For the workaholics out there, I know this will be tough for you. However, I can guarantee you will feel a sense of relief when you release yourself from living for the future rather than your current role. You will find time to focus on things like your eating habits at work and engaging in meaningful conversations with your coworkers. My managers seem to like the less stressed version of me because I am able to prioritize while enjoying being at work.
How do you say “no” at your job? Please share your advice below!!
Lord, I thank you first for my job and for allowing it to provide for my life. But Lord, I ask that you please help me to take care of myself at work by finding the right ways to say “no”. Give me the strength and the words to express myself when I’m feeling like work is taking over my happiness. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Let me know what you think!