Saying “no” to one thing gives you a huge opportunity to include a schedule of powerful ‘yes’ tasks on your calendar.
This sounds quite fundamental; but most of us are bound by a bundle of tasks that are a concoction of yes, maybe, no et al. As a result, we are inundated with so many chores that just never seem to end.
To be a thorough essentialist (borrowing this term from my favorite essential advocate, Greg McKeown), one needs to cut out from the clutter for the most important priorities of the daily miniature of our lives, which eventually leads us to realize our long-term goals that make a difference or a certain level of impact on not just our lives but on others, too.
When you say a aching “no” to even your dinner dates, you say yes to complete an important marketing presentation that could give you a promotion. (Well, this a debatable scenario – but this is just to give you a different perspective.) Okay, let me make it worth an execution: when you want to read 60 books in 3.5 months, you have to say no to TV, your favorite iphone pings, and even your much-loved PS2.
This is because you can only focus when you extenuate less important things in life. It is the result of continuous, deliberate efforts towards your ideal life.
So why is this so obvious but the most overlooked topic? Because somewhere deep down our hearts we all want to help others, please others, and in some cases makes them feel the most special. However the truth of the matter is that we don’t always need to please others; we need to create a special haven for only our dear-most ones and just be naturally helpful – as and when warranted.
So the truth is not-so-obvious: the reason the universe gives us an opportunity to say no to certain things is because it also bestows us with a rational decision making power of choosing the vital few from the trivial many – though, I think we still need to consider both of them sometimes, given the context we are into, but you get the point – focus, largely, on the vital few. That way you will create a multiplier effect as a result of practicing your core responsibilities – towards your work and life in general.
No’s fuel us to our real life, no-nonsense and a spirited world (versus saying yes to everything and spreading yourself too thin – and eventually landing up with a chaotic life and becoming an escapist.) As Seth Godin so rightly says ‘Instead of wondering where your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from – makes sense?’
As with the case with sales, entrepreneurship and business. When you start practicing the art of saying no to some business avenues that never seem to connect with you and your know-how or your approach towards certain business opportunities, you connect with the most fundamental but critical missions and purpose of your business existence. You become positively calendar-critical (in my parlance), and business conscientious.
And in the long haul, it is when you respect your time and priorities, people invariable start respecting you and help you in your prioritization. This is because they will understand that fact that you give your 100% focus on tasks that matter to you and will also do justice to their priorities by giving full zest and concentration whenever you help them. That way, you will eventually start to monetize your no’s into tangible yet quality results as your ROE (Return on Energy).
Say a small ‘no’ to trivial many and get better results by saying ‘yes’ to a vital few.
Practice essentialism. And get better, incrementally.