Why we MUST learn to say “No”

If we are going to experience the fruit of “focus” to any degree, we have to learn to say “no” appropriately.

That’s no big news to you, is it?

For most of us, it’s easier said than done.  So, let my next few sentences be added encouragement and a reminder to you to develop your ability to say “no”.

Our inability to focus is largely due to having “too much” or “too many”.  Too much physical stuff, too many tasks on our list, too many projects, too many commitments, too much activity, too much expectation…..  It can be easy to live in denial, because, in the moment, each of our activities seem like a good thing to do.  (I’m assuming that your tasks, projects, commitments and activities are mostly respectable and potentially fruitful.)

But, in case you’ve forgotten…..you can’t do everything.

When we find ourselves overcommitted, we have to be reminded that we must not only say “no” to bad things, but also GOOD things.  Saying “no” to mindless things is A LOT easier than saying “no” to good things.  A particular activity may be your friend’s favorite opportunity, but it may not be right for you, whatever the reason.  It may not be a good match.  You may not have the time it takes to commit to it. (Remember, you have to figure in preparation time, as well.)  It may be a project that you should jump into sometime, but not right now. Whatever the case, you have to be able to say “no” to the noble projects that aren’t right for you at this stage in your life.

Will some people be disappointed in you?

Maybe.  But you can’t control their disappointment.  Of course, you should be kind in your approach to communicating your decisions to people.  But, some people just won’t understand.  That’s okay.  They have their own life to manage.  You don’t have to be like everyone else.  They don’t live your life.  You do.  Your circumstances and abilities are different than theirs.  You are not a victim of schedule clutter.  You have a choice.  You are the one with the ability to change it.

Why do we say “no” to some things?

So we can say “yes” to the things that are more important to us….at that time.  We want to make sure we have time to do the most important things.  We can’t let “too much” choke out those activities that we have determined are our main focus.

What do you need to say “no” to today? 

Go ahead and start the process!  Don’t wait any longer.  You’re only going to get buried further.  If you have some responsibility somewhere, don’t leave them abruptly.  Give them sufficient notice so they can find a replacement.  But you can give your notice and start your exit plan today.

Why?  Because the things you should be saying “yes” to might be suffering.