I’ve talked about having a vision, if you’re a writer, for your career. I’ve talked about having a vision for your whole life in my organizing posts.

Because without a clear vision, your life and your career can become a scattered mess. One of the big lessons about meeting your goals is to learn how to say “no.”

When someone asks you to do something, or you yourself think you should do something to further your career or life goals, you need to make a decision about whether you should or should not do it.

Sometimes the best answer is “no.” All kinds of reasons for that. Perhaps if you do it, you won’t be able to do something else that you want to do or need to do is the biggest reason to say “no.” But there are other reasons. For example, you just don’t feel right saying “yes.” Or you know if you say “yes,” you will be stuck forevermore saying “yes” to the person who asked you. If it’s against your values, no question, you need to say “no” without hesitation.

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Sometimes the answer will be, “later” or “maybe later.” This is fine, but eventually you have to make a firm decision. I think women still have a bigger problem with saying “no” than men do. It’s a question of being assertive, of sometimes seeming to put yourself and your needs first. But if it has to do with your career and your happiness, why would anyone who loves or even likes you want you to take care of their needs ahead of your own?

Of course, all bets are off if the other person also puts your needs ahead of his about equally. Or if it’s a child who needs extra attention for some reason, someone who is ill, or an elderly adult.

So, it shouldn’t be an automatic yes or no. It should be thought out carefully. If you decide to say yes, then put your whole heart into it—do not begrudge the other person’s need and get sour about it. If you do, neither of you will be happy. If you do it wholeheartedly, both of you will be happy. But if you have been giving and giving to another who is hale and hearty, without that person giving back to you, it’s time to reevaluate your automatic “yes.”

Next week, When To Automatically Say “Yes!”