What Will You Say No To? #HappyNoYear2016

In the introduction to “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” author Greg McKeown writes, “The way of the Essentialist isn’t about setting New Year’s resolutions to say “no” more, or about pruning your in-box, or about mastering some new strategy in time management. It is about pausing constantly to ask, ‘Am I investing in the right activities?'”

Far be it from me to disagree with a New York Times Best-selling author and Stanford grad, but I kind of disagree with this New York Times Best-selling author and Stanford grad.

While I realize most of our New Year’s resolutions won’t make it past February, a New Year’s resolution done the right way can be a game changer. Before you can determine if you’re investing in the “right activities,” you’ve got to prune various areas of your life.That means saying “no” to the insignificant as well as things that seem important. The new year is as good a place to start as any.

Happy No Year - What will you say no to?

Just Say “No” to People

Are you a “yes” person? You take on other people’s problems without much thought. It rarely occurs to you that you have another option. Sometimes it’s our ego–we can do the thing better, faster, so why burden someone else? Then of course there is the legion of people we feel like we can’t say “no” to–bosses, children, spouses and friends.

No matter how you squeeze it, you only get 24 hours to each day. When you say “yes” to something, you automatically say “no” to something else. Accept a  lunch invitation from that gossipy co-worker, and you say “no” to hitting the gym on your lunch break. Say “yes” to chairing the school fundraiser and you’re really saying “no” to starting your MBA program.

Every request is not important. It’s not even necessarily important to the person who asked. When you opt out of other people’s to-do lists, the earth won’t fly off its axis. In the process, you’ll gain time and energy to work on the things that matter to you.

If you have a hard time saying “no,” I suggest you start in a specific area of your life for a specific amount of time. For example, you can refuse lunch invitations for a month. Decide what you will do with that time, read positive books, exercise, work on a passion project. It’s not that you are saying “no” to lunch as much as that you are saying “yes” to your own personal growth.

Even if you have no problem telling other people “no”…

You’ve Got to Say “No” to Your Putrid Self

The Resistance. Lizard Brain. Voice of Judgment. There are many names for that inner part of you that tries to keep you in your comfort zone. I call it your putrid self. It’s you–your thoughts and negative emotions–but it’s a grotesque version of you.

The putrid self is the reason you don’t want to be alone with your thoughts. It creeps in and reminds you of past mistakes. The putrid self tells you your limits. You can’t achieve that. You’re not smart enough. You’re going to get embarrassed if you try that. You’re fat (or too skinny), ugly, plain, stupid, socially awkward, smelly.

Don’t get confused. Your putrid self doesn’t hate you. Your putrid self is actually trying to keep you safe, safely in your comfort zone. That’s why he highlights your failings and downplays your achievements. The putrid self keeps you from risk.

If you want to embark on a new journey, do something great, or even take a different route to work, you’ll have to say “no” to your putrid self. Let’s say it together:

No, you cannot make me afraid of the world.

No, you cannot keep me in a box.

No, you’re not the boss of me.

And sometimes you have to tell your putrid self to just shut up already.

What will you say “no” to?

We only get this one life. We only get these 24 hours to each day. In order to say “yes” to what matters, you’ve got to say “no” to what doesn’t matter.

I won’t pretend to know what is holding you back from living your very best life, but I’m praying for your healing.

Say no to things that don't matter

What will you say no to this year so that you can say yes to things that matter? Please join me in the comments section below and on Twitter (#HappyNoYear and #HappyNoYear2016). I’ll get us started. This year I’m saying:

No to perfectionism. Yes to progress.

No to big ideas. Yes to small action steps.

No to my putrid self. Yes to my passion-driven self.

“Pathfinders: What will you say NO to this year so that you can say YES to the things that matter?”


What Will You Say No To? #HappyNoYear2016 — 10 Comments

  1. I have to work on making this a Happy NO Year. I not only don’t say NO to people, half the time I’m in their face volunteering for stuff they haven’t even asked me to do. My putrid self doesn’t tell me I CAN’T do things, it tells me I CAN do them and I can do them faster and better than anyone else. I actually can, for the most part, do things faster and better than anyone else, but sometimes I drive myself crazy because I’ve over-committed myself. Hence the name Adrian’s Crazy Life – but maybe in the New Year, I’ll learn to sit on my hands and not volunteer for so much stuff, so it’s not quite such a crazy year for me.

  2. Thanks for weighing in Adrian. I’m totally guilty of thinking I can do that faster, better, so let me take it off of that person’s to-do list. Never mind that the time spent on other people’s projects steals time from my passion projects. I will say NO more! Later gator.

  3. I love the idea of a Happy No Year. You’re right that it’s essential to just say no. We need to say no to additional volunteer requests, social commitments, work projects so that we can be great at what we’re already involved in. Many times people can’t say no and show up halfheartedly while taking away from current commitments. This is a great message. Show up to 2016 with clearly define priorities and have a Happy NO Year!

  4. Amen to that, sometimes you have to weigh out what is important and what you simply don’t have time to do right now. Hard to believe that 2016 is upon us, and everyone needs to have some goals lined up!

    Take care,

  5. Thanks for weighing in Brant. We only have so much time. I can’t believe 2016 is almost here, either. I can remember in January I kept thinking, but it feels like December 32nd. And now the year is almost out of here.

  6. Holly, you are so right about showing up halfheartedly. We take on additional work that we know we shouldn’t have, stretch ourselves too thin, and end up overwhelmed and irritated. Be blessed in 2016.

  7. Ebony – you are a thinker! Appreciate your insights—the “putrid” self, wow, I don’t like that guy. And in the absence of being intentional with my time, my evenings, my early mornings…well, the putrid self always seems to have ideas…

    So for me, “No to autopilot. Yes to an awareness of my choices, my priorities, my moments.”

  8. “No to autopilot!” That’s good stuff Chet. You’re right about protecting the early morning. Those are magic hours. Thank you for stopping in.

  9. Great POV!

    It has become hip over the last few years to write an entire article about the lack of worthiness of resolutions; too much negativity to reach out to people to suggest they not try to improve.

    Love “The Putrid Self.”

  10. I wonder when everyone got so down on New Year’s Resolutions. Call me sentimental I guess. Kris, I enjoyed your recent post about Applebee’s use of POS devices on the dining table. I’ll be back for a visit soon.

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