Blog Post / Jan. 13, 2020

Know When to Say ‘No’

Written by Claudia Williams

Are you a ‘yes’ person?

I used to be. From the time I was a kid, I always wanted to please people. My parents. My teachers (I wasn’t voted “Class Brown-Noser” my senior year of high school for no reason). My coaches. My bosses. My friends. And, ultimately, my clients and potential clients. Saying yes isn’t necessarily bad. But saying yes all the time can be a drain on your time and energy, and it might inhibit your ability to get done what you most need to get done.

Personally, I was saying yes to every networking event, mixer, dinner, happy hour…you name it. It was exhausting. My justification? I was trying to build a business, so I thought I needed to be everywhere all the time. As I started to pay careful attention to where and how I was spending my time, I realized that I didn’t need to be everywhere. Instead, I needed to be more productive. I needed to think more about why I was choosing an event to attend and what I was doing at the event. I needed to meet fewer people so that I could build deeper relationships instead of superficial and self-serving connections.

It was time for me to start saying no, and it might be time for you to do so, too. This might be really hard at first, but you will thank yourself a few months down the road when you are starting to realize the results of your increased productivity and happiness. It’s a two-step process.

Step 1: Start with crystallizing your goals.

The first step on the journey to no is to make sure you are clear about your priorities and what you need to accomplish. At the beginning of this year, I set a few, key objectives for my business:

  1. Become a certified Vistage Chair and launch an unbiased, peer-advisory group of high-performing executives.
  2. Record my Frientorship® book and launch it on Audible.
  3. Complete and launch my second book (stay tuned!).
  4. Launch frientorcast™ (my new podcast – more to come on that, too!).

I have much to maintain in the day-to-day work as well. I have high expectations for myself, much like you! Now it’s time for my personal goals:

  1. Embrace my ability to move. That means I want to exercise at least six days a week. I am reading Younger Next Year for Women. It’s a must read. I also bought my husband Younger Next Year for Men. These books have changed our approach to health, wellness, fitness and longevity.
  2. Maintain daily gratitude and meditation practices.
  3. Reduce my sugar intake. (This one is the hardest for me – hand down).
  4. Be present when I’m with my loved ones.

When you make your professional and personal objectives clear to yourself, you simultaneously empower yourself to build “no” into your vocabulary. I do have more specific goals with deadlines and all that good stuff. No need to bore you with all the details!

Aside: I promised in a prior post that I would make my goals public. #missionaccomplished.

Step 2: Does *this* advance my goals?

When you’re asked to do something, you can refer back to your goals and determine whether the requested action advances them in some way. Overcome your desire to see and and be seen. It simply isn’t that important. It’s more important to be sure you are building meaningful relationships with the right people, and not everyone fits that purpose.

When I took a step back and starting asking myself this question, I felt like I was finally in control of my time again! I became laser-focused on ensuring my family came first. Did I meet a zillion people? No. But I got to know fewer people – better. That’s far more important to me than hearing someone say, “Wow! You’re everywhere!”

With goals, I have the ability to look at events and other requests for my time and say, ‘hmmm…does this help me get any of my stuff done? Is it advancing my health? My relationship with my family?‘ And I have the opportunity to consider whether the request is an opportunity for me to give back. It isn’t all about me, and it isn’t all about you. It’s about being true to who we are.

When you use a more purposeful approach to how you spend your time, you will get more out of the time you actually spend doing things. You will get more out of your relationships. You will get more business (trust me). And you will be more fulfilled.

“No” is not a bad word. It’s a complete sentence, and it’s okay to say it!