Fifty minutes. That’s how long my Life Balance keynote presentation lasts. Of those 50 minutes, I spend approximately three minutes talking about the importance of saying no.
That’s less than 10% of my talk.
But what’s interesting is that despite the fact that I spend a relatively short amount of time talking about saying no, it’s always the number one thing audiences remember.
After I noticed how much this short but powerful message resonated with people, I decided to create a PDF download for my website titled 25 Ways to Say No. It’s organized by situations in which you’d want to say no but can’t easily do so, like:
- Declining volunteer opportunities as politely as possible.
- Setting boundaries when the demands are piling on at work.
- Turning social invites down even when you (gasp!) don’t have other plans.
Think of it as a cheat sheet for those times when you need a little help practicing this often-neglected skill.
I first wrote this list back in July. Since then, I’ve been perfecting it with the help of marketers, editors and graphic designers. That’s important because of what I’m about to say next. A few weeks ago, I saw something on Twitter that stopped me in my tracks. It was a tweet posted by a well-known writer who I follow and admire. She wrote a (very good) piece about how to say no.
I couldn’t believe it. It was in the exact same format as the one I had written months ago. It was even categorized by situations just like mine.
I read through the examples as a mix of emotions came over me. This person is a much more experienced writer than I am. She has significantly more influence than I have and is respected by hundreds of thousands of people (including me). Someone has already done what I was trying to do.
Everything in me wanted to give up. While I knew I wasn’t copying this author, nor was she copying me, posting it now seemed silly and pointless. The timing seemed to be mocking me as I had been working on this list for months. And in just one tweet, it was already done—by someone else.
Maybe you’ve been through this same dream-shattering panic. Maybe there’s a calling in your life and a passion in your heart, but you’re discouraged because someone else is already doing it. And maybe, like me, you want to give up.
Here’s why we can’t: In the midst of my fear, doubt and intimidation, God assured me, “There’s room for you too.”
You see, you and I may perceive the world as a place of limits and scarcity, but God doesn’t. God is infinite. And He has a place for your unique voice and passion and talent. He has a plan for the dream that He gave you – a plan and a dream that the world desperately needs you to step into.
Because God doesn’t put a message or calling in our hearts by accident. And He doesn’t set us up only to pull the rug out from under our feet. He’s a God that comes through: “The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Here’s the best part of this news. The job God has for you, the calling on your heart and the dream that keeps nagging at you—it’s a job that only you can do. There may be other people doing something similar, but that doesn’t take away from what God wants to do through you.
So don’t give up on your calling or ignore your passions and talents just because you’ve been distracted by someone else stepping into theirs. Instead, press on and do what God has given you to do.
Because I promise you, there’s room for you too.