Just Say No

The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.      -Warren Buffet

No. Such a small word, yet it can be so difficult to say. For many people, saying yes is an automatic response. We worry about disappointing others or being perceived as selfish. We want to please others so we say yes to all invitations and requests. When we place the needs of others first, we become annoyed, resentful and overwhelmed.

Saying yes too often is a surefire way to lose control of your schedule. It is important to be deliberate about which requests you accept and which you decline. Simplifying your life requires making decisions that ease rather than complicate your calendar. It can be difficult to determine which requests to accept and which to turn down. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before accepting a new commitment:

  1. Does it generate excitement or dread?

  2. Is it consistent with my values?

  3. Do I have available time to devote to it?

  4. Do I want to say yes because I am afraid to say no?

  5. Does it support my goals?

Once you decide you want to say no, it’s time to prepare for your follow through. While you don’t want to sound scripted, it can be helpful to draft a “no statement.” Be concise and get straight to the point. Waffling prolongs the conversation and makes it more likely you will lose sight of your mission. Here are a few examples of no statements:

I’m not available to help out that day, but keep me in mind for another time.

Thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t make it.

I understand it’s an important event to you, but I have something to do that’s important to me.

Practice your response by reciting it out loud to yourself or someone else. If you are not used to saying no, it can be helpful to start small. Begin with minor requests and gradually work your way up to more substantial ones.

Be patient with yourself. Keep in mind that saying no is neither selfish nor insensitive. It decreases stress and increases confidence. It reduces the quantity of your obligations and allows you to reclaim time for meaningful activities. Be true to yourself and learn to say no. It takes practice, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Read more about saying no: Warren Buffett Says This 1 Simple Habit Separates Successful People From Everyone Else

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