The odds are stacked against you when you set a new goal or commit to a new habit. Studies prove over and over that once the initial enthusiasm has waned off, people struggle to achieve their goals.
Overwhelm is a big reason why...
In a busy world that’s fast-paced and highly pressured, there’s always more we can do. With plates stacked high and to-do lists exploding at the seams, it’s not uncommon for goals to take a back seat. It’s not that you don’t want to work towards them. Instead, you have to clear some space first - then you can focus on that goal.
But the reality is the to-do list rarely shrinks!
As soon as you check something off, something else gets added - and it’s not just work stuff either. Family life, errands, and other roles and responsibilities pile on the pressure too.
With so much day-to-day stuff to take care of, you struggle to get to the bigger-picture goals and projects that could change your life.
Fortunately, there is a productivity tool that can help you create the time, space, and energy you need to do more of what you love.
It’s a two-letter word.
And it’s saying NO.
The hyper-productive word we’re too afraid to speak
It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much. - Steve Jobs
The ability to say NO puts you in control of what you do [and don’t] have or do in your life.
No allows you to control the size of your to-do list by turning down opportunities, tasks, and responsibilities that you haven’t got the time, energy, or inclination to do.
No allows you to maximize your energy by directing your reserves towards the things you care about - rather than someone else’s priorities dictating the allocation of your resources.
No allows you to state your own priorities and to protect your time.
If you’re able to say no at the right time, you can create the space you need to focus on the goals that matter to you.
If only it were that easy!
“If something is not a ‘hell, YEAH!’, then it’s a ‘no!’”— James Altucher
NO may be a two-letter word, but it’s often hard to say. In fact, it’s so hard to say that we often say YES [even when we don’t want to], which steals time and energy away from the things you want to do.
There are plenty of reasons why people feel uncomfortable saying no.
• We don’t want to let people down or disappoint others. We’re worried about saying no to our boss in case it affects our job prospects.
• We feel guilty saying no to our partner, kids, and other family members - especially when they rely on us.
• We don’t want to be rejected or judged.
• We don’t want to look inadequate or incapable.
• We’re worried about creating conflict [and not being able to handle it]
• We don’t want to be labelled selfish
• We want to be seen as a ‘nice’ person
The list goes on!
And it’s a problem, the more you say YES, the less time you’ll have for the things that move life’s needle.
How to say no without feeling bad
“No is a complete sentence," Shonda Rhimes
If the word NO doesn’t come easy to you, rest assured you can change this. You can learn to say NO confidently and comfortably and without worrying about what someone else is going to say to you or think about you.
Here are some tips:
- JOURNAL. Ask yourself why you struggle to say no? What are you worried about? What would it take for you to be able to own your time and energy to the extent that you can say no confidently?
- GET CLEAR ON YOUR PRIORITIES. What are your red lines? Where are your boundaries? One way to define this is to create your Personal Statement.
- BE KINDER TO YOURSELF! In the words of Lori Deschene, “You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no.”
- YOU DON’T HAVE TO JUSTIFY YOURSELF. As Shonda Rhimes said, “NO is a complete sentence”. You don’t have to explain yourself. If you feel called to say no, that is often enough.
- STICK TO YOUR GUNS. If people are used to you saying yes, they may be pushed back by a change in tack. Resist the temptation to back down because the other person’s response has made you feel bad. Remember, this is about protecting your time and giving yourself the space to fill your life with what you care about most.
Whether you’re saying no to a client or your boss, telling your kid that can’t have another cookie, explaining to your parents why you can’t go for dinner, or turning down a night out with a buddy, the confidence to say NO [when you want to say no], puts you back in the driver’s seat of your life.
Remember, say NO and achieve your goals!
What will you turn down today?
It’s a simple, but highly effective strategy to reclaim your time - and possibly your life.