Once upon a time, my calendar was bursting at the seams. With four active children, a retail photography studio, activity in my church, and community volunteer work, my color-coded calendar looked like a rainbow threw up all over it. I was busy 24/7 and the word “relax” was not a part of my vocabulary. I felt like I was a good mom and a successful business owner. Until the day I missed an mportant client meeting that got overlooked in my overcrowded schedule.
Fortunately my client was understanding—but it was a HUGE wake-up call for me. I thought I was a much better time juggler than I was. We all think that. And many of us labor under the delusion that if we’re busy we must be accomplishing important things and building our success. And a detrimental delusion it is. Busy, productive and successful are NOT the same thing.
Let me repeat that.
Busy, productive and successful are NOT the same thing.
Busy people may look productive and therefore successful, but in reality they’re often so busy juggling all their commitments to keep anything from falling through the cracks, they miss the important opportunities that could actually increase their success. It feels good to be needed. Being “in demand” can stroke the ego. It feels good to be able to help, but when we fall into the trap of thinking we need to be involved in or responsible for everything, we aren’t doing ourselves—or anyone else—any favors.
I enjoy having opportunities to serve and to be involved in my communities, but I have learned that involvement comes at a price. Providing my business services for free can hurt my business (and it has more than it hasn’t). When I fail to value my time and talents, others fail to value them as well and come to expect free all the time. If I am working for free or volunteering for too many causes I am giving away opportunities where I can earn money to meet the needs of my family. And when I say yes to too many opportunities to provide personal service to others, I am giving away the time I need to meet the needs of my family.
When you say yes to every request that comes along, whether it is business or personal, you will eventually have no time left for the things that are necessary or important to you. You allow someone else to choose your priorities. You also torpedo your business and personal success with all those other activities that take time away from what’s really important. I am not saying you shouldn’t serve or help—that’s not what this post is about. It’s about learning to distinguish between good, better and best, and learning when to decline good and better so you can focus on “best.”
How Can Saying No Make You More Successful?
When you say no to commitments that don’t honor your purpose, you have more time to focus on the things that do. Here are some of the many ways in which saying no can make you more successful.
- Saying No gives you control over your own life.
You have the power to choose how to spend your time. Allowing yourself to be “guilted” or shamed into accepting requests gives that control to others.
- Saying No lowers your stress level.
Agreeing to things that you either don’t want to do or don’t have time to do creates stress. Declining them helps you avoid unnecessary stress.
- Saying No gives you the time and resources to say Yes to the right opportunities.
When your life is overstuffed with every request that comes along, you lack the time and energy to take advantage of the right opportunities for you.
- Saying No can increase your confidence and self-esteem.
Being assertive and taking control of your life is good for you and strengthens your confidence.
- Saying No increases your self-discipline.
Saying Yes to every request is often the path of least resistance. As you learn to speak up for yourself and say no, you are exercising and strengthening self-discipline.
- Saying No demonstrates that you value your time.
- Saying No can protect your reputation and integrity.
- Saying No increases your authenticity and credibility.
Declining opportunities that don’t fit your purpose or you don’t have time for, allows you to avoid sub-standard results from overbooking, and allows you to act with integrity and reinforce your purpose.
- Saying No helps you avoid burnout.
Being selective about the requests you accept helps you to avoid overloading your schedule and becoming too exhausted for your priorities.
- Saying No gives you more energy.
When your actions and your commitments align with your purpose, you are energized by them instead of being drained.
- Saying No allows you to make smarter decisions.
Carefully choosing the right opportunities, while declining the wrong ones is making smart decisions for you, your business, your family and your life.
Saying no is a skill worth developing and saying no can make you more successful. As you begin to regularly say no to the wrong things and allow yourself time to say yes to the right things, you’ll find yourself with more time, more opportunities and more success in your personal and business life.
Not sure how to develop the habit of saying no? Follow the simple steps here. And let me know how this has worked in your life. Share your challenges, your questions and your successes in the comment section.