Saying ‘No’ in Order to Say ‘Yes’
Karen and Jay share thoughts on the importance of knowing when and how to say ‘no’ – in order to say ‘yes’ to the things that matter most.
We each have a certain amount of space in our lives for the things that matter to us most. Whether it’s our time, our money, or even how we choose to invest in our relationships, every day we are saying ‘yes’ to some things – and by implication – saying ‘no’ to others. We are making choices that prioritize our lives. But are we making the right choices?
The problem is that we are confronted by so many requests and opportunities every day. Ways to spend our time, things to buy, things people want us to do. And, while it’s easy to say ‘yes,’ the truth is that many of these are things that will not ultimately help us achieve our life’s mission; advance the things that are truly important to us. Instead, they are distractions, time wasters, things that other people want us to do, yet have little benefit to us. However, because of convenience, or not thinking or just dream walking, we say ‘yes.’ Yet, the truth is that we should be collecting ourselves – taking a moment to reflect – and saying ‘no.’ And, in so doing we will be saying ‘yes’ to making space to pursue the things that are truly important.
Here's an interesting real-life analogy that may give you a sense of how this works and bring this idea to life. Have you ever been doing some much needed cleaning or organizing around the house and come across say, an old tee-shirt or an item you feel has some sentimental value, and instead of getting rid of it, you keep it, even though you tasked yourself with getting rid of clutter? Sometimes it’s hard for us to get rid of things or say ‘no’ to something when we think it adds value to our lives or helps remind us of a special moment. The thing is though, while holding onto something, or saying ‘yes’ when we want to say ‘no’ can make us feel good in the moment, it’s often when we respect our boundaries or the goals that we’ve put before ourselves that we see the most positive results. Yes, perhaps that old tee-shirt has some sentimental value, but getting rid of it can also make way for something new in your closet or dresser.
While saying ‘no’ to some things can feel empowering, it can also feel uncomfortable or intimidating. We’re often taught that to say ‘no’ in certain situations can be rude or impolite, while we’ll say ‘yes’ to things to be accepted by others or to hold on to something that no longer serves us. The reality, however, is that saying ‘no’ often means saying ‘yes’ to something else. Sometimes when we say ‘no,’ we change the way we handle or react to certain situations, empowering ourselves to make better decisions for ourselves. The mental health implications cannot be understated, as saying ‘no,’ or letting something go, can allow us to value our choices more and prioritize ourselves. This can help lead to new opportunities that wouldn’t have come simply by saying ‘yes’ to something else. It can also allow us to set boundaries, helping us take time for ourselves in ways that make us a better friend, partner, parent, or colleague.
This isn’t to say that we should never say ‘yes.’ Quite the opposite. The difference is learning when to say ‘yes’ in the right moment and learning that it’s ok to say ‘no’ when something doesn’t serve us, whether in the moment or in the long term. Sometimes when we say ‘yes,’ we do so with resentment, which can negatively impact our relationship with ourselves and others. When we choose to say ‘no,’ it tends to be an indication of respect for ourself and in some cases, others.
Recently, I found myself in a situation where I was invited to an event last minute. Though I had interest in going, I was exhausted after a long week of travel and work, and politely declined. I’d later come to find out that there would be another opportunity to attend a similar event that I was actually more interested in attending a few weeks later. This is just one example of where saying ‘no’ had its benefits. The truth is, saying ‘no’ isn’t the end all be all. While there may be a bit of fear of missing out, or FOMO, more often than not, when we say ‘no’ to things, we’re simply setting boundaries, not missing out. When we operate with intention, you’ll find that if something is meant to be in your life, it will find its way to you. And when we’re confronted by a scenario when someone wants us to say ‘yes,’ but we make the difficult choice to say ‘no,’ we make space for those things that truly benefit us.
Saying ‘No’ to What’s in Your Closet – to Help Others
Recent weather has given us an extended spring so for those who haven’t had a chance to do that spring cleaning - here is your chance!
Now, why is that important? An interesting statistic I found, showed that the average American consumer disposes over 80 pounds of clothes each year. Yet only 28 percent of Americans donate clothes. Of that donated clothing, those that can't be re-worn due to whatever reason get sent to landfills where only 15 percent get repurposed - which could be for textiles or other recycling purposes. However, it’s encouraging to note great strides are being made by many organizations that are focused on helping others and our environment.
First, there is Apparel Impact, owned and operated by veteran Joe Whitten. Joe served our country and now is creating jobs that focus on recycling clothing. Joe and his family started the business in 2014. Today they have nearly 1000 clothing bins across New England, have recovered over 45 million articles of clothing, and have helped more than 13,000 people. So, please be on the lookout for those white bins with bold orange lettering on the side - as most likely, it’s part of Apparel Impact’s operation. Karen and I strongly encourage you to drop off those old shoes or pairs of jeans not being worn. Learn more at www.apparelimpact.com
Another great organization is Outfitting Opportunity, a program initiated by my friend and Granite State ambassador, 11 year-old Elliot Perry. The organization has a pretty neat idea on how to outfit the next generation of the American workforce.
As Fortune magazine reported last week, Americans are retiring in record numbers. So, what can these retirees do with their business attire that’s just hanging in their closets? Donate it to the Outfitting Opportunity program so students or college students going into the workforce have the necessary clothing they need for an interview, onboarding, or getting ready for the real world. This program is an all-donation based initiative including their base of operation on the Nashua/ Hudson line in Southern New Hampshire. To learn more about outfitting opportunities and to start helping others, please visit www.elliotperry.org.
Saying ‘No’ to Avoid Overextending Yourself
Saying ‘Yes’ is often seen as the key to unlocking opportunities and opening doors in life. It can lead to exciting adventures, new connections, and personal growth. However, there are instances when saying ‘Yes’ without hesitation can lead to overextension and exhaustion. It is in these moments that saying ‘No’ becomes a powerful tool in managing our lives and finding a balance between our personal and professional commitments.
In the business world, particularly in startups or new ventures, the eagerness to take on any and all new business is understandable. Saying ‘Yes’ to every potential client or project seems like the logical choice to grow and succeed. However, not all opportunities are worth pursuing. Some may require excessive time, resources, or compromise on core values. By learning to say ‘No’ to certain clients or projects, businesses can focus on those that align with their vision, values, and strategic objectives. This not only prevents overextension but also allows the business to deliver its best work and maintain a positive reputation.
Likewise, in our personal lives, saying ‘Yes’ to every social invitation or commitment can lead to burnout and a lack of time for self-care and personal growth. While it's important to be open to new experiences and connections, it is equally important to evaluate each request and consider whether it aligns with our priorities and overall well-being. By learning to say ‘No’ when necessary, we can create boundaries, protect our energy, and engage in activities that bring us joy and fulfillment.
Saying No’ doesn't mean shutting ourselves off from new experiences or opportunities entirely. It simply means being intentional about our choices and understanding that our time and energy are valuable resources. It's about recognizing our limits and setting boundaries that allow us to thrive rather than spread ourselves too thin.
In fact, saying ‘No can often be a pathway to saying ‘Yes’ to what truly matters. By declining certain commitments, we create space for activities that align with our passions, personal development, and overall happiness. We can say ‘Yes’ to self-care, quality time with loved ones, and pursuing our dreams. We can say ‘Yes’ to opportunities that truly resonate with our values and contribute to our long-term success and fulfillment.
Saying ‘No’ is an act of self-care and self-respect. It empowers us to prioritize our own needs and aspirations, rather than constantly seeking validation or approval from others. It allows us to take control of our lives and make choices that align with our authentic selves.
In conclusion, while saying Yes’ can lead to exciting opportunities and personal growth, there are times when saying ‘No’ is necessary for our well-being and success. By carefully evaluating the opportunities and commitments that come our way, we can prioritize what truly matters, create space for personal and professional growth, and ultimately say Yes’ to a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Positive Profile of the Week: Daniel Fielding
This week we are delighted to highlight someone who literally ‘wrote the book’ on having a positive mindset. Daniel Fielding is the author of a great book called ‘The Asset Mindset, A Special Forces Perspective for Achieving Success.’
The latest edition is on pre-order now, and being rereleased on September 5th, later this year in conjunction with Simon & Schuster Gallery books. Because of Daniel’s advocacy of a positive mindset, you might suspect that Daniel is a person who has consistently said ‘yes’ throughout his life. As it turns out, it’s quite the opposite that is true. In fact, it is by having said ‘no’ at critical junctures in his life and his career, that he has achieved some of his most notable successes.
One such time was when he was entering the US Army and was told he should be joining as an officer since he had a college degree. Yet, he said "No, I want to be a Green Beret as soon as possible” so in turn he was saying ‘yes’ to an incredible, and rewarding challenge to become a Special Forces Operator which he now looks back on with pride.
Even before joining the Special Forces, Daniel shares a story in his book about being a young man and hanging with the wrong crowd. In this story his peers were all pressuring him to get in a car with them but instead, he followed his gut and said “No”. This ‘No’ turned out to be a big ‘Yes’ when everyone in the car ended up getting arrested and he did not. This ‘No’ allowed him to have a clean record when joining the military enabling him to get a ‘Yes’ by the US Army to receive a Top-Secret security clearance. We all need to understand that saying ‘No,’ can lead to a big ‘Yes’ in our future.
The key to saying ‘No,’ to say ‘Yes,’ is deeply embedded in ‘The Asset Mindset.’ Daniel teaches us how to say ‘No’ to negative thinking, ‘No’ to negative environments, and ‘No’ to negative influences so we can say ‘Yes’ to positivity, ‘Yes’ to success, and ‘Yes’ to reaching our goals. A technique covered in his book is that of becoming a ‘Pagemaster.’ He uses this term in relation to our minds being akin to a book and how we need to master turning the pages or thoughts in our mind to the things we want to focus on. Thus, saying ‘No’ to negative thoughts and ‘Yes’ to positive thoughts will lead you to new exciting opportunities.
A great way to think about saying ‘No,’ to say ‘Yes,’ can be summed up as - saying ‘No’ can be like pruning a diseased tree. You have to cut off, or say ‘No,’ to the disease or negative thing to allow for the ‘Yes’ or new and healthy growth. Learn to say ‘No,’ so you can ‘Yes.’ No one can do it for you because you are your greatest asset!
Thanks to Daniel and the great work he is doing on positivity. I encourage you to reach out and read his fantastic book!
Quotes of the Week: Saying ‘No’ to say ‘Yes’
"You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, unapologetically—to say 'no' to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger 'yes' burning inside." - Stephen Covey
"The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say 'no' to almost everything." - Warren Buffett "The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes." - Tony Blair
"The power to say 'no' is the power to say 'yes' to a greater vision. Remember, every time you say 'yes' to something, you are saying 'no' to something else." - Robin Sharma "No is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation. It is simply a statement of fact that you are not available for whatever it is you are saying 'no' to." - Iyanla Vanzant