saying no to make space for the right yes

Saying no is a master skill of the exceptionalists and the extraordinary people amidst us. It’s their secret weapon to ensure that they rise above the crowd and pursue effective leadership.

When we commit to too many things, we sacrifice our focus, performance, productivity, happiness and health and well-being in the long run. That’s why the best way to not only attain success, but also sustain it, is to say no to any task, activity or event that doesn’t align with our most important goals. 

We must start living by the “Less but better” philosophy because only then we achieve substantial progress in the pursuits that matter most to us. 

As Ryan Holiday explains, “We think success is having more and more responsibilities and having more and more projects on your plate. It can be, but again, I think that can be very limiting. We think that life is about taking on opportunities, however, success might be more about knowing which opportunities to reject. So that’s something that I have to think about a lot in my own life. Let’s say I agree to do 50 podcasts today. I could do that: I could record them back-to-back-to-back, and that would seem as if it were good for my writing career. However, what’s being pushed aside is the most important thing that I do, which is sitting down to write.”

He goes on to say, “The problem is you get the ROI from doing the press, you put in an hour of your time, you sell X amount of copies. You spend an hour sitting alone writing, you actually don’t know what the ROI is on that, because it’s measured so far off in the distance. I have to remind myself constantly that when I’m scheduling things, or when I’m saying yes to things, I’m saying no to the most important thing professionally, which is my work. And then, personally, you’re also probably saying no to your kids or your spouse, or even just taking care of yourself. When people over-commit, they don’t think about things like, ‘Oh, I’m going to the gym now less because I don’t have time.’ But those costs are very real.”

Saying yes to anything and everything under the sun has its consequences. And it’s best to commit to the vital few than the trivial many before it gets too late. As the popular quote goes, prevention is better than cure.