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Are you feeling overwhelmed with a big list of things to do? Learn to say NO

focus Jan 21, 2019

No one likes to be the villain, very often we find ourselves saying YES when asked to do something, because we feel obligated to do so, or because we are the type of person who likes to please, although we really want to say no, since we already know that if we commit ourselves to do even more things, other activities that are important to us will end up being neglected.


Maybe, you are going to tell me, how am I going to say no to my boss, who is asking me to finish this by tomorrow?, or to my friend that’s asking me for a favor?, or to so and so that’s asking me for this and that, etc. etc. etc.?


But honestly, between your job, your projects for this year, and your daily obligations, you have very little time to do all the things you want and need to do, imagine if you add more?


We may think that the things we want to do for ourselves can be set aside, in order to deal with this new commitment, but let me tell you something, that is the worst mistake!


For example, many times I’ve seen that we say no to personal things that are very important, like going to the doctor for example. We say "I don’t have time", I first have to do x, y, z; but if we don’t take care of ourselves, how are we going to take care of others?


Let me ask you, does a car work if it runs out of gas? Or if a tire goes flat? Or if the engine light turns on? If you don’t put gas in it, or repair the tire, or take it to the mechanic, it will most likely break down, don’t you think? So, why do you say NO to yourself yet you cannot say NO to others?


Another example when speaking of our own personal development is that we tell ourselves that we can postpone that course we wanted to take, or that book we wanted to read, etc. Or we say that we don’t have time right now or that we don’t have the money, however, we know that we need to get up to date with that training in order to perform better at our jobs and be more efficient.


If you want to achieve your objectives, you really need to learn to say NO to everything that is not aligned with your vision.


Therefore, without adding more stress to your life, how can you say no to those things that are not aligned with what you want to achieve, with what your vision is.


1. You know you have a very busy week, you schedule is already full, if you make the commitment to do yet something else, you know you will not be able to do something that’s important or that you will do it at the expense of something else, like your health, or perhaps spending time with your family.


2. Think of the Cost of opportunity. The Cost of opportunity is the cost of what you have to renounce to, by doing something else or getting something. The benefit or value of what was abandoned can refer to decisions in your personal life, in your company, in the economy, in the environment, etc. Like we said in the previous example, at the expense of what will you say yes to a new commitment?


3. Think if what they’re asking you to do is just one time thing, or does it imply a longer term commitment? In other words, think of the consequences. Maybe it’s something simple that will not divert you from your objectives.


4. How does the situation make you feel? Our own survival instinct makes us feel uneasy when someone is asking us for something that deep inside we know will cause a problem. Listen to your instinct.


I’m not telling you to be selfish and that from now on you say no to everything and everyone and that you only focus on your own things. No, not everything is black and white, you can’t move onto extremes. I’m just saying that when they ask you to do something, think of all the consequences and options before you make the commitment.


Your boss is asking you to attend a meeting, normally one does not say no to the boss, however, politically you can say that you’d love to attend but you are working on item x which is urgent, and ask him, which one do you give priority to?.


Perhaps a friend asks you for a favor, and that implies a commitment of several hours, which you had planned for other important things, check if there’s an alternative that will help your friend before you make that commitment.


Saying NO to yourself and others is crucial to be able to focus and achieve results.


It’s not about being arrogant, it’s about rejecting those things that are not strategic and doing so nicely.


Be polite, you can say:


“Thank you for thinking of me. I’d love to help/participate, but it’s not possible, however, I am honored you thought of me”


“I prefer not to do (thing x), but thank you so much for thinking of me”


“I’d love to be able to help, but it’s just not possible at this time”


It’s important to allow yourself not to want to do it ALL. Stop saying yes to everyone and everything and to every new idea that pops into your head or that comes your way.


Because the truth is that saying YES to those things means that you are saying NO to something else, and sometimes that something else are things that are really important to you.


If you are really being honest with yourself and your capacity to achieve what you want, and you’re tired of living in a constant state of worry and stress, it is very important that you learn to say NO as soon as possible to any new project or requests that come your way and that are NOT aligned with your objectives, with your dreams.



Think of all the opportunities you have missed by saying YES to everything that is asked of you or that presents itself. That is your homework.

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