Say No to Demands and Yes to Yourself

How many people here have a full day in front of them? How many of you have scheduled regular exercise? How many of you sleep an average of 7.5 hours per night? How many of you have scheduled a regular date night with your spouse? Regular play time with your kids?

Taking care of ourselves and our families often get the short end of the stick in today’s busy world. It’s not that we don’t want to, its that there are so many interests competing for our time. In fact there are not enough hours in the day for most people to get done everything that they agree to and so people feel they are constantly behind.

“Yes” lives in the land of “no”, if you want to say yes to time with your family, time for yourself, and time for the big picture goals of your life than we need to say “no” to some of the other demands. Start by deciding that you are going to say no to anything that does not bring you joy, or take you to one of your big picture goals- which by the way should also bring you to joy.

Open up your calendar for the next month, and see what’s on it, in both your work and personal life. Ask yourself the following:

What doesn’t need to happen now?

What doesn’t need to happen at all?

What doesn’t need to happen by me?

What’s on here only because I think I should do it, not because it’s necessary or I want to?

Try to be as ruthless as possible here: Remember, even if a meeting is on your calendar, doesn’t mean you necessarily have to attend. Perhaps there’s another person on the team who could attend in your place; perhaps you could ask for an email update afterward.

OK, before this gets fun, it also gets a little scary, but I promise, it’ll be worth it. Look at your list and cancel, delegate, or move anything that can go—but at least one thing

Once you have done that, delegated or cancelled things that don’t really need you- your calendar’s going to be a bit clearer—nice, right? Let’s make sure it stays that way. Any time you’re invited to something, think through the questions above. Does it need to be done? Now? By you? In many cases, the answer’s yes, but make sure you really feel that way before adding something.

If the answer is no, here are a few lines I’ve used to professionally decline the request:

Thanks for the invite, but I’m confident that the rest of the parties in the meeting can [move forward / make decisions / brainstorm] without me. Let me know if there’s anything you need my input in after the meeting, and I’m happy to weigh in.

I normally find that this conversation can be hashed out over email. Here are the next action steps on my end. Let me know if you have any questions after taking a look, and I’m happy to jump on a call then!

Unfortunately, the next few weeks are really crazy for me, and working on this over email would probably move things forward faster. Then if there’s anything we need to meet on after that, we can schedule some time?

Next I write down one thing you really want to do for yourself or your loved ones and calendar it. Block out that time and don’t give it to anyone else. Tony Robbins has been known to say that he schedules his intimate time with his wife- not very spontaneous, but definitely keeping what’s important on the front burner.

Though we don’t yet schedule “intimate” time in our calendars, my wife Katherine and I get together 3-4 times a year and schedule vacation time, family events, special time together, Weekly family schedule review time for the future, and we calendar them. These are boulders that we schedule our work around no exceptions. Start treating what’s important as primary, say “no” to urgent demands that are unimportant, and say “yes” to a happier and more fulfilling life.

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