In the movie “Yes Man”, my comedic twin Jim Carrey plays a pessimist who attends a motivational seminar.
Inspired by the speaker, he decides to say yes to anything asked of him.
The movie was a light-hearted and humorous attempt to showcase the power of yes and positive thinking.
Although I found the movie enjoyable, I’m not entirely sold on its premise.
I mean, after all, it’s just a movie.
And no one says yes to everything, all the time.
Well, research has increasingly shown that many of us are afraid of saying no, for fear of disagreement.
This can happen in both professional settings and personal interactions.
Our fears are reasonable as research has also revealed agreeableness to be a positive personality trait.
People who scored high in agreeableness were linked to better performance and career success.
Hmm, it’s not looking too good for the naysayers then, huh?
Well, I’m here to tell you that the older I’ve got, the more I’ve become happier by saying NO to things.
Whether it’s having my own opinion on matters or respectfully declining someone’s invitation, I think developing the ability to say “NO” is severely underrated.
As an executive in ONE Championship, I have a packed schedule.
There are many responsibilities and projects that I’m involved in. Not to mention, the travel and preparation, and study I undergo as part of the commentary team for each event.
I have little to no bandwidth for many things. As a result, much of my life is automated and I’ve simplified much of the decision-making I do in a day.
If I’m eating out, I know where to go, what I want, and how I want it. The best part about being a regular is that others know that too.
When I’m that busy, sometimes I lapse into a mindset where I constantly think about how I can better optimize and manage my time.
Instead of saying no, I’m considering if I can squeeze in an additional task or clear something from my inbox.
It feels great when you’re keeping the momentum going and getting things done.
However, that’s not always the case.
Other times, you can’t quite focus properly, things get unexpectedly delayed, or you run into more problems.
That’s when the frustration builds and you end up feeling tired, worn out, and unhappy.
And it circles back to the question, what if I simply decided to say NO to some stuff?
Would it make my life simpler?
Or am I missing out on opportunities?
If everything is important, then is anything important at all?
It boils down to priorities.
What are your priorities?
Do these priorities change? And if they do, how often?
To live a better and more purposeful life, I think these are the questions we need to assess frequently.
I wrote in a previous post about how the easiest change is to just do something new.
If you’re unmotivated, lazy, or can’t seem to get things managed well in a day, making a to-do list and checking tasks off feels amazing.
The harder thing to do is to tweak your schedule, examine your habits and eliminate distractions and things that negatively impact your ability to work and function.
It’s also far easier to spot the mistakes of others than to acknowledge the ones we have in ourselves.
Everyone should ideally make a list of priorities.
Out of this list of core priorities, I identify three core priorities. These are non-negotiable things that you treasure in your life.
In another post, I talked about keystone habits and how they compound to generate incredible momentum and positive action for the rest of your day.
In the same way, these three keystone priorities are fundamental to who you are, your beliefs, and your principles.
The rest of the things on the list can be discarded and placed into a box labeled ‘Avoid’.
This separation makes it clear and simple. Focus on what’s important. Anything else, avoid.
When new opportunities come your way, look at your list and see which category they fall under.
This obviously depends on your personal life and circumstances. Everyone’s list is different.
Outside of this black-and-white list of YES and NO, there’s another question I ask myself whenever an opportunity arises.
I stop and think to myself, ‘Is this something that I want to do right now?’
If it is, it means I’m excited and motivated – which more often than not are the key to getting things done well and successfully.
It’s an easier way to assess if you should say YES or NO to something, especially if you’re tired or in a rush.
So the next time something comes up, have your mental list ready.
Don’t be afraid to say NO to something. NO isn’t always a negative word.
It can also have a positive impact on your life and happiness.