Use the 80-20 Rule

You may need to say no a whole lot more. No is a complete sentence. There is no mistaking what it means. “No” doesn’t have to come across without feeling or with arrogance. Many people are worn out because they say “Yes” to every request that is made of them. They are caught on a treadmill of pleasing others.

We all have certain activities and projects that fit our values and are in line with our personal desires. Take the time to think through those things you absolutely want to say “Yes” to. Once you know those, saying “No” to the rest becomes a whole lot easier.

Saying “No” will give you more time to concentrate your efforts on those areas and activities that are of greater importance to you.

“Not being everything is smart; not working on everything but rather emphasizing selected strengths is the route to excellence. For many people, this understanding requires a redirection of the doing all and being all to being more by focusing on less and doing a lot of what you do well.”

Donald Clifton and Paula Nelson, Soar With Your Strengths

Five Days of Action

If you agree to take on too many responsibilities and little projects for people to the degree that it is causing you significant stress, practice saying the following for the rest of the day: “Sorry, I’m not able to do that.” No need for a long justification. “No” is a full sentence. Be kind. But be firm.

Take some time today to think about whether by saying “yes” more than you should you are really trying to please others and have them think highly of you. This may not be the case at all for you. You may just be a very accommodating person. Even so, take some time to dig a little deeper and examine your own motives.

Today, practice saying “yes” to those requests which align with your values and priorities and which are reflective of the practical amount of time you have available. Say “no” to everything else.

When you do say “yes”, be generous with your help and time, knowing that it is exactly what you should be doing right now. It is perfectly reflective of your personal interests, values and passion.

Today, review your new policy about saying “no”. Does it work for you? Make adjustments if needed. Be prepared for the next request that is made of you.