Success & Goal Achievement

How to Say “No” More and Focus on What Actually Matters

Learn How to Say "No" and Create the Life You Want

Download the First 2 Chapters of The Success Principles!

Have you ever felt like everyone around you wants a piece of you? Learning how to say “no” to these people will allow you time to focus on yourself, and your own priorities.

That’s why today I want you to make the commitment to saying “no” more often – and I will teach you how to easily and effectively communicate this to those around you.

Learn How to Say “No” and Create the Life You Want 

We’ve All Been There

Suppose your kids want you to drive them everywhere or they want to borrow the car, screwing up your own plans for the day.

Or your coworkers want your help on projects that aren’t really your responsibility.

Maybe your boss wants you to work overtime to finish a report you could have completed days ago if he had just given you the information you needed when you needed it.

Your sister asks you to take her kids for the weekend. Your mother wants you to come over and take her shopping.

It feels like you never get a moment to yourself to focus on what YOU want to do!

So how do you combat all the demands on your time and energy? Especially when it’s so easy for people to reach you at any time, no matter where you are, by phone, text, instant messaging, facetime, email, social media, or video chat?

It’s simple: you learn how to say “no.”

Knowing How to Say “No” Doesn’t Make You a Bad Person

Learning how to say “no” simply means that you care about prioritizing your time and energy, so you are able to devote it to the things that matter the most to you.

Saying “No” is Difficult

We don’t want to seem rude, selfish, or unhelpful. So we just keep saying “yes” to everything people ask of us, and pushing ourselves to honor our commitments, no matter how stressful it is. And we tell ourselves that’s just what it means to be a good person.

Saying “Yes” is Simple

When you say “yes” to everything, you end up keeping yourself stuck in situations that aren’t healthy or conducive to your personal growth. All those commitments you’ve agreed to end up devouring your time, your energy, your motivation, and your drive.

If you continue saying “yes” to everybody and everything, eventually, you’re going to burn out. And that doesn’t do you or anyone else any good!

Using “No” as a Tool for Success

When you learn how to say “no” to the things that don’t truly give you the joy you want or don’t serve your ultimate goals in life, you open yourself to the opportunity of saying “yes!” to the things that will give your life more meaning and more fulfillment.

What is really true is that not only will that make your life better, it will ultimately improve the lives of others around you as well.

How to Say “No” More Effectively

It’s hard to say “no”, but here are a few tips that will help you communicate more effectively to those around you.

Create a “Stop-Doing” List

I want you to think of all the things you regularly say “yes” to that take up your time and energy without making you happier or advancing your goals in any way.

Take some time today to write a list of the things you need to stop doing and make the firm commit to NOT doing them anymore from this point forward.

Maybe you need to stop answering all the unsolicited emails you get. Or watching the news every day.

It can be so depressing and rarely contributes anything valuable to your life. And if anything really important happens that you really need to know about, you can trust that your friends or the people at work will tell you about it.

Maybe there are some games on your phone or your computer that are time-wasters that you need to delete. And do you really need to check every post on Facebook and Pinterest that your friends and family post?

Whatever those unproductive time-wasters are, decide to stop doing them! Once you take the time to get clear on what they are and make the commitment not to do them anymore, it’ll be easier than you think to remove them from your life. To learn more about this, please read my article on professional development planning.


Communicate Your Boundaries

Here is a sentence I’d like you to memorize: “It’s not against you – it’s FOR me.”

Saying “no” isn’t a rejection of the other person; it’s simply saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t want to do that because my other commitments and priorities are more important to me at this time.”

You might also want to frame your boundaries as a list of actual “policies” you maintain to be able to devote your time and energy more fully to the things that will have the greatest impact on your life.

For example, some of my personal policies are that I don’t schedule more than five talks in one month. I no longer co-author books with first-time authors; they take up way too much of my time and energy.

I don’t take any calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because those are my writing or product development days. I don’t lend money to anyone. And I don’t make charitable contributions over the phone. You have to send me something in the mail that I can read.

I am so clear about these personal policies that when I express them to others, they understand that my refusal to honor their request is just a policy I have and has nothing to do with them personally, and they respect my boundaries.

Say “No” to the Good and “Yes” to the Great

Start making the distinction between the projects, tasks and time commitments that are merely good. And by this I mean the things that you’re fairly skilled at, maybe you don’t mind doing them, and they yield decent results – and those things that are truly GREAT.

By truly great I mean the things you are truly awesome at, the things you love doing best, and the things that make your life really better in some real and significant way when you do them.

Then, focus your time on doing more of THOSE things that have the potential to produce really great results and less of the ones that are merely in the good category.

For example, I would say I’m a good editor. I’ve written enough books to look at someone else’s writing and be able to identify ways to make it stronger. But even though I am good at it, it doesn’t produce great results in my life.

I’m also good at writing forewords for other people’s books, but the time it takes to read their book and craft an introduction that I would be proud of takes up way too much time and doesn’t produce that much in return.

I am much better off spending my time actually writing my own books. When I do that, I am getting MY ideas out into the world.

I am reaching millions of people and making an impact that matters to me. And I am making the royalties that come from that writing.

The same is true for my speaking. Speaking to a group of 100 people is good, but speaking to a thousand people is great. I used to say “yes!” to almost anyone that wanted to hire me. Now I am much more selective.

Practice Saying “No”

What are the activities that YOU are great at, that produce more awesome results? As opposed to the ones that are merely “good.”

The clearer you get about that distinction, the easier you’ll find it to say “no” to the good and “yes” to the great – and create the more deeply fulfilling life you deserve.

Now, let’s talk about this. I’d like to hear your thoughts after reading this blog. Who and what do you have trouble saying “no” to?

I’d love for you to answer that question in the comment section below so I can read what you have to say!

Thank you for reading, and remember, nothing in your life will change for the better until you do.

If you’d like to lay the foundation for a more joyful, abundant, and successful life get the first two chapters of my best-selling book, The Success Principles.

Meet Jack Canfield

For over 40 years, he has been teaching entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, and people from all walks of life how to create the life they desire.

As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul(r) series, he's taught millions of individuals his modernized formulas for success, and has trained and certified over 2,700 students to teach his content and methodology in 107 countries around the world.