Rules for Life

Learn to Say No So You Can Live a Better Life

Saying “yes” seems easy on the surface, because it allows you to please everyone. If you never tell anyone no, you never have to disappoint them. Consequently, a life of absolute “yes” will have you contributing to everyone’s happiness except your own. As you enter manhood, it’s important for you to learn to say no so you can live a better life.

Information Overload

23 words per second. 105,000 words every 12 hours. This is the amount of information being thrown at your brain constantly. Studies have shown that the human brain is inundated with 34 gigabytes of information daily.

For context, this amount of data would overload a laptop in a week. Much of this messaging is designed to persuade you to “do something”. It could be an display ad for the local car dealership, a video ad for a new show on Netflix, a notification to check your email, a text from a friend, a baseball score update, or a voicemail from your boss. With hundreds of communication and information sources bombarding us with messaging throughout our waking hours, how do we stick to our game plan and get things done?

Our world today offers a variety of ways to spend our time. Outside of all the digital notifications jockeying for position in your conscious mind, we have opportunities to spend time with family, friends, co-workers, and romantic interests, along with networking opportunities with strangers. The variety of hobbies available are endless. Same goes for entertainment.

Oh, and hundreds of companies are trying to persuade you to spend money with them too. If you ever take a few minutes to look through your “snail mail”, I’d bet 4 out of every 5 pieces of mail are sales offers, even if they’re disguised as credit card upgrades or business loans. Everyone wants your money, time and attention.

say no to distractions

Constant Battle for Your Attention

Studies show we spend around 47 percent of every waking hour “mind wandering.” As an ambitious man, you’ve got goals to hit, so wasting time isn’t an option. These benchmarks are impossible to reach if you say “yes” to everything, let alone consider every offer thrown your way. To best maximize your waking hours, it’s imperative to have a game plan every day. However, it’s not enough to simply “have a plan”; you’ve got to develop the discipline and will power to stick to that plan. The only way to successfully do this is to get comfortable saying “no”.

Yes, it’ll be challenging. At times, you will feel left out, and maybe a bit lonely. There will be instances of experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out). Sometimes you will feel real “peer pressure”. Other times you’ll feel bad because it seems like you’re letting people down. In the grand scheme of things, none of it will matter if it doesn’t contribute to your goals. Being protective of your time and energy is the most crucial factor contributing towards achieving your goals. Committing to anything less will derail your hopes and dreams, and delay your arrival to the next level.

A Real Example

Your goals will vary. Some will be financial, while others will be health related. Many will involve your mind and personal growth. All will require complete commitment and discipline, and to do that you’ll need to get comfortable saying “no” to people, places, and things. Take two examples:

You have a financial goal to save $12,000 this year. Simultaneously, your car lease ends in September, and the dealer calls you to invite you to the dealership to discuss your lease-end options. When you get there, they put the full court press on you to upgrade to the newest model, even though it will be an additional $5,000 down and an extra $125/month for the new lease.

The brand new model looks great and drives great too, but you realize that buying out your existing lease is the better financial decision. On top of this, the used car market is so hot that you can probably flip the older model for a $10k profit. The salesperson was so convincing, and they’ve come up with every reason for you to upgrade.

Do you make the easy decision and agree to take the new car, or do you dig deep and tell them “no”? If you’re staying true to your mission, you’ll say no and walk out knowing you are committed to your goals and remain the master of your own fate.

say no to stay disciplined

Strengthen Your Discipline

In an effort to get back in shape, you’ve committed to five morning workouts per week. So far this week, you’ve completed four workouts and plan to do a fifth Sunday morning before a family event. All of a sudden, your buddy calls you and invites you to a party that night.

Understanding the party doesn’t start until ten, you realize it will end up being a late night if you go to the party. Under those circumstances, your morning workout won’t happen, and you’ll have no time to complete the fifth workout. You can blow it off and go have fun, or say “no” to the party because of your deep commitment to your goal. For this reason, a disciplined man will keep his eyes on his desired outcome and find the strength to say “no” to the fun.

“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” – Paulo Coelho

Every time you say no to temptation, it becomes easier to do next time. You dig your heels in deep and you remain focused on your mission. That will power will strengthen each time, just like a muscle. Conversely, each time you cave to temptation, it gets harder to get back on track and maintain commitment to your goals. Be protective of your time and energy. Put your game plan before everything else. Get comfortable saying “no” to things that don’t contribute to your mission. You’ll be stronger for it, and that discipline you develop will lead to ultimate freedom.

– Your Big Bro