Saying "no" has never been easy for me. As someone who likes people around me to be happy, saying "no," risking disappointment or inconvenience for others, is something I avoided in my younger years. I'm finally starting to get the hang of it though.
Reading this article recently, Three Steps to Say No Gracefully, I realized how far I've come in making choices that are right for me. Having found a way of life and work that I enjoy has been a catalyst for change. I now consider whether saying "yes" will allow me to hang on to the contented feeling I cherish most days and if the answer is "no," then that's my answer when I'm presented with a choice.
Running my own business, I can say "no" in ways I couldn't when I worked for someone else. I've said "no" to potential clients whose projects didn't suit what I have to offer with my skill set. I've said "no" to extending a contract that didn't work well for my time or my bottom line. And most difficult of all, I've said "no" to unpaid website design work for friends because I realized the time I spend working needs to contribute to my family's financial support right now.
So I'm getting better at setting boundaries that are right for me and saying "no" politely and firmly. If you're working on this important life skill, especially as the pressure of holiday obligations begins to grow, I'd recommend reading the tips in the article I mentioned above.
Now if I could only learn to say "no" to those blueberry muffins that are so hard to ignore, I'd be stepping up to the next level!