That’s it. Before you object, let’s see how “no” can be a powerfully positive tool.
Has anyone seen the How I Met Your Mother episode about saying “no” to take charge of your love life?
At least that’s the nicer version than the actual script when J-Lo says:
“By saying “no” constantly and consistently, you empower yourself while simultaneously turning any jerk into a submissive, sniveling, puddle of man.”
To which Robin responds with, “Hmm. And isn’t that every girl’s dream?”
I’m no love doctor. I tell bachelorettes to wear a leather jacket and show off their intellect; bachelors to smell nice and make the girl laugh.
But she’s right about empowering yourself.
When I brought up the topic to a friend, he was reminded of the procedure taught on airplanes where you put the oxygen mask on yourself before you do it for your seat buddy. If you’ve been on an airplane a lot growing up then the cartoon instruction manual is probably lodged in your memory too.
But it’s a die-hard idea that won’t…well, die: You can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first.
How we spend time reflects how much we progress.
For instance, if I said yes to every chance to frolic at the bars, I might set back my training because I couldn’t show up and perform at the gym.
If I stay up late, I end up trying to catch up on sleep on days I’m supposed to catch brunch with family or fall behind writing quality programs my clients are counting on.
It’s an invisible avalanche of commitments tumbling out of reach.
(By the way. I’m not a hermit. I like my friends and double IPAs. It’s just a matter of constantly practicing how to curate your schedule.)
Here’s another example: Maybe your co-worker or client will email you last minute to see if a scheduled meeting can happen earlier. But you’re already out picking up food, getting ten minutes of zen or working out. You have two choices:
- Fall into the trap of “time compression” (The Urban Monk is a phenomenal book that discusses this) because “things will fall to shit if you don’t do it.” You just set the stage for a day of a cranky-hungry version of you. Stress levels that are constantly raised cause weird biological things to happen in our bodies (blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the area that makes us good humans with higher reasoning).
- Reply and say you have other commitments but can reschedule. Life continues, you kick ass at the meeting and you find time for the double IPA.
See, “no” is:
- Saying yes to your health, your mind, your personal development, and your loved ones.
- What happens at the end of the How I Met Your Mother episode when Barney turns down J-Lo because he kept a promise to his friend.
- When the numbness from the battle of “keeping up” gradually disappears and vitality starts filling up your life again.
- A fulfillment of your promises to live your best self.
Most people have it backwards. Captain Obvious…Your schedule is already crazy!
Saying no is saying yes to many other things. Pick one thing to try it with and let me know how it goes.