“No” – it is such a small word. But it is one of the most powerful in the English language. From a very early age, children are taught this word and expected to heed it. Why is this such a powerful word, though? As a person who usually is quick to say “yes” and even quicker to commit to lots of things when he should commit to few, this is a topic I know I need to “think out loud” on for a bit.
One of the biggest things saying “no” can do is help you set solid boundaries. When someone asks you a question, do you have to say “yes” or do you have an option? That isn’t a trick question, but somehow many of us have convinced ourselves that a question is the same thing as a demand. Don’t believe me? What happens when you get a text message or the phone rings? What is your immediate response? I heard long ago from someone I respect deeply: “when the phone rings, it is a request for your attention. You don’t have to answer it.” As simple as that may seem, you can apply that same logic to many things in life. Saying “no” sets the boundaries of what you will and won’t do and what is and isn’t going to get your attention. In your finances, “no” has the ability to help you balance a budget faster than almost anything else…even if the person you’re saying “no” to is yourself.
Just like you can set boundaries with the word “no,” you can also set priorities. No matter how efficient and productive you are, there will never be more than 24 hours in your day. To say “yes” to spending your time/money/energy on one thing means you must say “no” to another. Unless two activities can be combined (be honest with yourself about how many really can be!), then you are giving up one thing to do another. I LOVE woodworking and am actually pretty decent at it, but do you know how much I’m in the shop? Not nearly as much as I could be. I have responsibilities at home, a wife, kids and other things that are more important. Say “no” more often to the things that don’t matter so you can say “yes” to the things that do matter. Same goes for your pocketbook. Many have said, “show me your checkbook and I’ll tell you where your priorities are.” There is a lot of truth to that statement. While most of us may complain about what we “have to do,” or “have to pay” much of those things are what we choose to do or choose to pay.
Whatever you do, don’t forget that “no” is not a dirty word. Before you say “yes” to the next request, seriously consider the power of “no.”