What Are You Saying NO To?

By Lee Collins •  Updated: 08/29/16 •  5 min read
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You may be familiar with the phrase “when saying YES to someone else, what are you saying NO to for yourself”.

These are immensely powerful words. Especially in the mentoring arena. The words carry much weight and can provoke great thought. These 14 words can convince you quickly to start saying “no” more. Which could be considered a good thing. (Lord knows I should say no more.)

But, please be careful with this powerful concept.

Have you fully considered what it means to say NO to opportunities that are brought into your life?

All too often in my 14-year entrepreneurial journey I have seen people faced with this very powerful concept without the other half of the puzzle, and this lack of the complete picture has often led them to say NO to what they find later were the wrong things.

Here’s my advice to you if you find these words compelling you to say no more to others so you can say yes more to yourself, and in an effort to balance your actions you also should ask yourself this question:

“When saying NO to someone else,
what am I saying YES to for myself?”

And then you need to decide if it is worth it.

Sure, it’s easier to take on the task of saying NO to others, but what are you saying YES to for you? And is your YES to yourself more valuable to you than your NO to someone else?

For example:

Let’s say you have a money goal of $10,000 per month. And you want to achieve this money goal doing what you do now, with very little modification to your work behavior. If your pay rate is $30/hour you would have to work 333 hours every month to achieve this goal. That’s 83.3 hours per week. That’s almost 12 hours every day on a 7-day work week, or over 16 hours a day on a 5-day work week.

If you already feel stretched to the limit, it may be easy to say NO to taking on that new client, because you’re already feeling overworked and may believe taking on another client would put you “over the edge”. I mean, who wants to work 12+ hours every single day? Not me. Therefore, it may seem like the right thing to say NO to the new client so you can achieve more of your “time freedom” goal. And, initially, that may feel great!

But if you have a money goal, and if that goal depends on “hours for dollars”, does saying no to that new client get you any closer to your money goal? The short answer is no.

And if you do say no to the new client, so you can say yes more to yourself, do you have a Plan B to achieve the money goal? Or did you just say NO to your money goal – meaning a month from now you will still be frustrated that you are no closer to your money goal then as you are now?

Now, I know this is a simplistic example that can create quite the dilemma, right? I know you probably have more than just one goal. I know it’s not all about the money. I know money probably isn’t your only goal. And I also KNOW you probably don’t want to clock in 83.3 hours every single week because that doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else.

But when achieving the money goal helps all your other goals, I believe you should learn to prioritize. And (perhaps even better) maybe think of other ways you can reasonably achieve your money goal without locking yourself personally in to 83.3 drudging hours every single week.

Either that, or you need to change your money goal to something you can actually achieve within the limitations you place on yourself.

Taking our example another step:

If you only want to work 50 hours every week, with no modification to your pay rate or how you perform this work, then the most you can possible make each month if you are in the business of trading hours for dollars is $6,000. Period. That’s $4,000 short of your original goal, but it’s unrealistic to shoot for $10,000 given these stated limitations (50 hours per week, hours for dollars, no modification in behavior).

Are you comfortable with that? Or should your priorities shift a little to help you achieve what you REALLY want?

  • Can you work more hours? Would you even want to do that?
  • Is there a way to get paid more money per hour for what you do?
  • Is there anything you can do differently that would create more efficiency in the work?

All these questions should be weighed alongside your prioritized goals to help you drive everything in your desired direction. Everything in life costs time, money or both. Is money freedom or time freedom more important to you?

If there’s one thing I learned in my military and corporate careers it is this…

“when everything is a priority, nothing is”

So, what is YOUR priority?

Lee Collins

Lee Collins is a former Air Force Network Systems Engineer and Fortune 500 Corporate VP - who is best known as an early pioneer of Direct Response Marketing on the Internet. He has over 24+ years experience running operations for multiple multi-million dollar marketing, software, SEO, financial, and business coaching companies. When Lee isn't helping his private clients solve big (and small) marketing and operations problems, Lee is most likely heading up into the mountains in his fully-equipped Jeep Gladiator. Or just gone fishing.