Absolutely NOT

“You can’t make sanity
out of an insane situation.”

Cheryl Richardson

Do you feel overworked, overburdened, or under pressure? Is your life chaotic, your schedule overcrowded, and your brain too full to think straight?

If this is how you operate, then it is time to drop some baggage and lighten your load – about 30% of your load, to be exact.

Extreme self-care requires you to be VERY discriminating about how you spend your time and energy. It is time to raise your standards for what you will tolerate and what you will not tolerate in your life. The things you choose to do must honor the level of self-care you need to be at your very best.

Some common things we do that do not honor our extreme self-care:
– Being available 24 x 7 by phone, text, or email
– Cooking every meal (especially when there are other family members capable of helping)
– Attending events that we would rather skip
– Working during lunch or on the weekends

This challenge is all about saying NO to anything unfulfilling so you can say yes to your self-care. Your Absolute NO list is a reminder of what you will no longer do so that you can protect your quality of life. Saying no is not the same as having a sense of entitlement. It is not about neglecting responsibilities. Your Absolute NO list is about removing from your calendar and life the situations, commitments, and arguments that always leave you feeling drained or resentful.

Over the next week, look for activities you would no longer like to do or would like to give up at some point in the future. Pay attention to the sources of frustration in your life. Notice how you physically feel as you navigate through your commitments. Consider adding to your Absolute NO list anything that causes you tension, tightness, aches, or pains and any task or event that makes you edgy or short-tempered.

Write or type up your list and post it next to your computer, carry it in your purse or wallet, tape it to your bathroom mirror. Review it often and commit it to memory. The goal is to develop an Absolute NO List that makes you feel safe, protected, taken care of, and free to be your best self.

When you can implement an item on your list immediately, do so. Some Absolute No’s may have to be phased out over time – finish planning the 4th-grade holiday party but say no to planning the Valentine’s Day party.

Here is the first pass of my list. I chose to break it down into different areas of life.

Gretchen’s Absolute NO list

I will not…


  • teach yoga to anyone under the age of 12
  • discount my services beyond what is already advertised
  • teach weekly classes more than 10 miles/15 minutes from my home
  • invest more time, energy, or resources in my clients than they are willing to invest in themselves


  • prepare meals for my family to eat while I am out of town/busy
  • pack school lunches
  • stand in line to talk with teachers
  • sell crappy stuff for fundraisers (donate instead)


  • overpack for trips
  • eat meat
  • go to an event because I feel obligated if the event doesn’t excite/interest me
  • act on rumors
  • feel bad about saying no when no is the right answer for me

Now it is time to get started on your own list. Feel free to borrow from mine. I am happy to share. Remember, most of us need to eliminate roughly 30% of our baggage. To do that, your list will need a minimum of 5-6 Absolute NOs. If your list has less than 4 NOs, I encourage you to take more time to consider what needs to change in your life. You can grow your list over several weeks.

Once you have a list started, take a moment to review Challenge #3: Learning to Disappoint Others, so you can confidently say NO when no is the right answer for you.

P. S. Clearly there are times when saying no is impossible. But adding as much of the baggage you can control to your Absolute NO list will help you handle the baggage you can’t control with less insanity.

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