“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.”- John Carmack
If you’ve ever spent any amount of time with a toddler, you’ll quickly become aware that one of their favorite words is “no.” They don’t have any issues throwing it around however they please.
We’ve all been toddlers, but as we grow older, we get conditioned to believe that saying “no” is a bad thing. So much so, that it actually becomes uncomfortable to say when presented with things we don’t want to do, or simply don’t have the capacity to do at that moment.
We often say “yes” even when we shouldn’t. The problem with this is even though we think we’re being helpful, it’s actually to the detriment of the task at hand and those involved. Someone will be disappointed.
If you want to do great things in life, you not only need to become comfortable with turning things down, but you need to be great at it.
By mastering the art of saying “no,” you’ll ensure that you:
- Won’t overcommit
- Avoid burnout
- Prioritize what is essential to get done now, and what can wait
What a great feeling! Here are some steps you can take to embrace the power of “no.”
Ask Yourself If You Truly Have to Say “Yes” to a Task
Be honest, what do you absolutely have to get done on your own and what can be done by somebody else? What are the ramifications if you say “no?” Think through these types of things before committing to anything.
Create a List of Everything You Have Going On With Due Dates
This provides a good visual to show that you aren’t saying “no” just because you don’t want to do something, but because you just don’t have the adequate time to do the request justice.
Acknowledge You May Miss Out On a Few Things
Admit it, some of the busy work you do you may actually enjoy, but is it necessary that you’re the one doing it? Can it be delegated to somebody else? Even if you don’t necessarily mind doing it, it’s still taking away from other more enjoyable and important things you should be focusing on. Try to keep your tasks to things that only you need to be doing.
Practice Saying “No”
Saying “no” is hard. It just is, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Practice saying it with things that have limited impact. For example, if somebody offers to get you a coffee, politely decline just for the sake of it. You obviously don’t need to turn it down every time, but situations like these are easy to try it out. It’ll make the more difficult times you say “no” easier.
Keep Your Intentions In Mind
Remember, by actually turning things down that you truly can’t dedicate the right amount of attention to, you’re doing yourself and others a huge favor where better outcomes will result in the end. You need to keep your eye on the prize and focus on what matters.
Remove Emotion from the Situation
Emotion is often the reason people are afraid to refuse a request. They don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings or let somebody down. Pretend for a second you could remove that emotion. What decision would you make using logic alone? If it’s telling you to say “no,” do it.
Be Clear and Transparent
If you can take on a task and do it well, move forward with it, but if you decide not to, make sure you’re clear with the “why.” Lying about why you won’t be doing a task doesn’t do anybody any favors and you will often get caught. It’s better to be honest so that you’re still trustworthy and approachable with future interactions.
Offer a Solution
If saying “no” to a situation puts the asker in a bind, help to brainstorm another option. Just because you aren’t the person doing it doesn’t mean you can’t help to get it done in some way. This will also make you look reliable so that people can come to you in the future with a task when the timing works out better. You don’t want to tarnish your reputation just because you turned something down.
Food for thought: Do you have issues turning things down? Is it getting in the way of what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish?
This post is a part of series of posts that give a preview of our upcoming guide, Unleash Your Inner Awesome: Motivational Quotes With Actionable Steps to Help You Reach Your Goals and Achieve Great Things. To learn when this guide will be released and get access to it, be sure to follow us on social!