Reading time: 4 mins
The Magic Word
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a legend about a word that was so powerful, that it stopped bullies, conserved your time and energy and even helped you feel happier in your life. But alas, as time moved forward and technology became advanced, that word started to fade away, only to become legend…
I recently discovered that word and want to share that discovery with you!
The magic word is… No. That’s it.
But in our daily lives, many of us find it really difficult, uncomfortable and even rude to say that to a boss, a colleague and even a family member. For some people, ‘No’ is akin to a swear word.
But what I have realised is that as our lives get more complicated and busier than ever, saying ‘no’ is absolutely critical to our long term success and happiness.
3 Reasons Why We Must Say No More
1) Stress and Overwhelm
We live in stressful times.
We have increasing pressures on our mental health, our ‘to-do’ lists are swamped and although we have social media, it seems that we are more lonely than ever.
Many people say that ‘multi-tasking’ is the answer but more and research is showing that multitasking is more likely cause us to burn-out rather than be productive.
Our brains were not designed to handle so much information and we are suffering for it. A lot of personal development books today focus on time management, productivity and ‘getting more done’. But don’t confuse doing more with being more effective – I still make that mistake.
At one point, I was a full-time teacher, a part-time events manager, aspiring coder and caring for a sick relative and I totally burnt out. My health was poor and I was chronically exhausted. It took me awhile to realise that I was not the T1000 and I was a human-being that needed to rest.
Sometimes by doing less, we feel guilt as if we are ‘letting the team down’. But the opposite is true – if you push yourself to the point of having a nervous breakdown or severe illness, you won’t be no good to anyone. Sometimes the most caring thing you can do for others is to look after yourself.
2) Opportunity Cost
If you went to the Self-Help section of your local bookstore and picked up just one of the books, 9 times out of 10 it would full of fluffy statements like “follow your dream” or “you can do whatever you set your mind to – if you want it back enough”.
Although they are some seeds of truth in these statements, they don’t really give the full picture. As I mentioned in a previous blog, humans have the great ability to oversimplify things known as ‘abstraction’. Which is great in some cases but can case great problems in others. Most humans find it extremely hard to accurately see all the pros and losses of a future event.
For example, looking at the average superstar CEO/artist/entertainer/athlete, most people wouldn’t mind having the money and apparent freedom from a ‘normal’ deskjob. But could they handle the pressures of fame, like no privacy, public shaming and humiliation, the lawsuits, never knowing who you can trust and the gruelling hours of practice/performance that will keep you #1? Although there are many positives in their life, the tabloid papers remind us the extreme downsides as well.
Every time that you ‘yes’ to something, you are in saying ‘no’ to something else. Everything that you do costs, in either time, energy/health or money. And there are no exceptions. Most of us make choices without counting the cost. Saying ‘no’ allows us to make choices on our terms rather than someone else’s.
Guys I really struggle with this one: I think that my focus DNA is faulty.
I have noticed this is my journey learning to code. If I create a 2 hour block to code this is what usually happens:
a) Start coding (20 minutes)
b) Come across a challenging piece of code & wrestle with it – then wonder why I bothered trying to learn it in the first place (20 minutes)
c) Watch YouTube/surf the web then feel guilty and try again (30-45 minutes)
After a ‘2 hour session’, I walk away feeling proud of myself when in reality I did 30 minutes work.
Saying ‘No’ is not always dealing with external factors or people. Sometimes the person that you will really need to say ‘no’ to is… you. Sometimes you will have to say ‘no’ to the distractions, being comfortable, trying to make sure that everyone is happy and enjoying short-term pleasures for long term gains.
Former British Prime-Minister Tony Blair once said “once you decide, you divide”. The word ‘decision’ comes from the latin word ‘caedere’ which means to ‘cut off’. Every time you decide you completely cut off another part.
As I wrote before, my Old Man used to like to garden and he would often prune the flower bushes. The Old Man would explain that in order for the actual flowers to be stronger, we would have to cut off additional leaves so that they didn’t take up extra resources. The word ‘no’ does not have to be a swear word. The word ‘no’ can be used as a powerful tool to cut off the unproductive things in your life that take up your natural resources so you can focus on what really matters.
Thank you for reading! Do you struggle to say ‘no’ like I do? Where can you insert more ‘no’s’ in your life? As always let me know what you think by leaving your comments below or tweeting at me via @karlwebdev.
See you next Thursday