Have you ever been working really hard on an important goal and then noticed that other things in your life are starting to slide? Then you start to feel guilty that you can’t do it all?
Then you start shoulding on yourself.
- I should be able to reach all my goals without giving up anything.
- I should be better at this.
- I shouldn’t have to sleep more than 5 hours a night.
- I should be able to work a full time job, start a side business, lose weight, take care of the yard, clean the house, volunteer at church, and be the perfect mom/dad/wife/husband.
- I should be able to play in the NBA, speak Spanish and Mandarin fluently, travel the world, and play the guitar like Eric Clapton (Ok, that last should is really just a wish list for me…Sorry.)
It sounds silly when you read those “shoulds” out loud, but we do this stuff to ourselves all the time? Why?
I think it’s because we have more than one goal and we want to accomplish them all – right now! And, we think if we let anything slip while we’re working on a goal, that we’re a failure.
You would never tell a friend that, but it’s what we tell ourselves.
I have more than one thing I want to do in life. I have more than one goal. I’m sure you do, too.
But we have to remember one of my favorite quotes from David Allen.
This is where the heavy dose of Vitamin N comes in. It’s the vitamin your parents gave you while you were growing up, the one that stopped you from being a spoiled brat.
Vitamin N is NO.
When I was finishing my book, I was spending two to three hours a day on it, while I was still spending about eight hours on my day job. Something had to give in the rest of my life.
I blogged less. I didn’t create any new videos. I wasn’t playing my guitar. I watched virtually no TV. I said no to invitations.
I focused and used heavy doses of Vitamin N.
I know it’s hard to say no. We all want to be the team player. We don’t want to be called selfish, lazy, or rude. We want to say yes to our boss when she asks us to take on another project. We want to say yes to our colleagues who ask us for help.
We want to say yes to our kids, spouse, church, charity, and friends.
This isn’t to suggest that you always say no, or that you never help out a co-worker or a friend. This isn’t carte blanche permission to say no to everyone. You will still say yes to your spouse, kids, boss, church, etc., but you won’t say yes all the time.
The point is that you are strategic as to when you say yes and you make sure that no is not a dirty word. It will end up helping you, and everyone you care about, more than saying yes to all comers.
Success comes by doing ONE thing … and then doing another ONE thing, and then another.
Regardless of what Oprah tells us, we can’t do more than one thing at a time. So focus, do the ONE Thing, and then do the next thing.
I’m reading Jon Acuff’s new book, Finish, and he makes a great point about this. He says you need to pick what to bomb in your life.
At this particular time, with your priorities, what are you going to let slide?
- Do you need to pay someone to take care of your lawn, or clean the house?
- Is it time to take a break from one of the committees you serve on?
- Do your kids need to understand that they need to pitch in more around the house so you have a couple more free hours a week?
- Do you need to let someone else lead the new project at work this time?
Every time we say yes to what someone else wants from us, we are also saying no to time focused on our goals and what we want. If we’re spread too thin trying to help everyone with their work we will end up with poor results for them and for the work we are called to do.
We need to administer a healthy dose of vitamin N. We need to be comfortable saying, No. We can be nice in how we say it, but we don’t need to act like we’re doing something horrible by saying no, either.
Here are some ways to say no:
- Thanks for asking me, but I’m in the middle of a project right now that I need to finish by my deadline.
- I’m not the best person to help on this one. That’s really Jim’s specialty.
- I’ve already committed to X right now. I know you will do a great job.
- I’m not able to set aside the time needed to do that well.
- I’m honored you thought of me, but I’m not able to help on this one.
- No, I’m not able to do that.
It will take some practice getting good at saying no, but it will change your life. Try it out. See how it feels.
Say no to someone today. Say no to two people tomorrow. Or, as Jon Acuff says, pick what you’re going to bomb.
It is liberating.
(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)