Why Saying 'No' Will Improve Your Life

Jan 07, 2022

The ultimate currency in life is not money, it’s time. How we spend our time influences almost every area of life- it influences how much money we make, how much energy we have, our level of life satisfaction, the quality of our friendships and relationships, and how we raise our children. 

Giving someone your time is the most valuable thing you can give them. In giving them your time, you [hopefully] give them your attention, and more than anything in todays world with all its distractions, time in which we are attending to one another is the ultimate win. 

Given the current theme of a new year, it seems only appropriate to provide you with research-based strategies to improve your behavior as it relates to time management, energy leaks, habits, and boundaries.

Emails flood your inbox, text messages light up your notification center (with the frustrating lack of ability to ‘Mark As Unread’), and with these things comes a decision: How will you choose to spend your time?

Said another way, how will you choose what to say ‘no’ to?

Which of those conference calls, meetings, presentations, or calls will you say ‘no’ to? With gusto, that is! Without feeling guilty or shaming yourself, but rather, saying ‘no’ with the understanding that the resource of time deserves a high premium. 

When an employee stops you in the hallway because they ‘just have a quick question!’ or because you would feel guilty not saying ‘Hello’ every morning as you typically do, how much time (and energy) are those moments costing you? 

Don’t let them steal what can’t be replaced; Not because you are mean, not because you don’t care, and not because you lack kindness. Instead, because you have an awareness that no one is guaranteed a certain amount of time, nor do we have any inclination as to how much time we have. 

For many people, especially people-pleasers, declining events or holding strong boundaries can be very difficult. To combat the guilt, you might feel, ensure your delivery is kind yet clear.

My guess is that you’ll be surprised at the response you get in turning down an invitation. Because protecting our time is so rare these days, many people respect the act of doing so and find it extremely admirable- aspiring to do the same for themselves. 

Another important point to consider is that events and invitations are never the duration of time they’re stated to be. A Zoom call is never the one-hour time slot occupied in your calendar. You must consider the time to prep, the small talk before and after, the technical aspect of setting up.

Many variables, including time in transit, go unaccounted for in invitations we say yes to, the little stops in the hallway, and the people coming in and out of our office. Add up all of this time wasted, and it’s no wonder you are overworked, unfulfilled, and struggling to manage anxiety.

It was the great Seneca who said, “laid waste to your life when you weren’t aware of what you were losing, how much was wasted in pointless grief, foolish joy, greedy desire, and social amusements—how little of your own was left to you.”

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