As a Life Coach in NYC, I often remind my clients of the basic principles of success, both at work and home. One of these principles is that saying “no” more often is key to maintaining a balanced life.
Why is this so? Isn’t it important to greet opportunities in life with a whole-hearted “yes”? Well, yes and no. You do want to say yes to those opportunities that help you further your top goals and priorities. But you want to say “no” to most things that fall outside of those priorities.
While it may seem like the nice thing to do to say “yes” when someone asks you to add something to your plate, there’s a problem with doing this too often. That problem is that because everyone’s time is limited to what often feels like a too-short 24 hours per day, saying “yes” to the wrong things ultimately results in having to say “no” to things that count more.
Alternatively, if you say “yes” too often to projects and plans that don’t really serve you, yet continue to also do what counts, then you’ll quickly find yourself feeling overwhelmed and burned out. Once that happens, both your productivity and your joy will quickly plummet in everything that you work on or do.
There are many things that you might enjoy doing, but that you don’t really have time for in the context of your current commitments commitments that move you closer to your most important goals. So the first step in saying yes to no is getting clear on what you really care about.
To do this, follow these steps:
- Map out how you currently spend your time, focusing on “standing dates” that you must keep with yourself. These dates should include:
- Time you spend at work
- Time you spend commuting to and from work
- Time you spend eating and preparing meals
- Time you spend doing personal maintenance, like taking a shower and getting ready for work
- Time you spend doing household/life maintenance, like cleaning, shopping, and banking
If you’re like most people, you may be surprised by how few hours you have left after all of the “have tos” are accounted for. But although it may be disconcerting to see this information in black and white, once you know how many hours you really have at your discretion, you’ll be in a much better position to make decisions about how to use them toward what you value.
Let’s say that you discover, after all is said and done, that you have exactly two free hours to spend each work day. Do you want to focus those hours on activities that aren’t your priorities? If not, you need to get better at saying “no” to everything that might take you off of your path.
If your priority is to spend as much time as possible writing, or spending time with friends, or being with your family, or doing things outdoors, then nix all suggestions that threaten to rob you of your precious daily discretionary hours. Be ruthless it will pay off in greater balance and life satisfaction.
Mark Strong is a Life Coach, Career Coach, and Executive Coach based in NYC. You can find more information at www.markstrongcoaching.com.