When to say no and when to say yes


by Don Smith

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Image showing yes no maybe decision

How do I know when to say no and when to say yes?

I asked my wife the other day her thoughts on me to taking on another leadership role that I was asked to step into.

Her response?

“I swear if you take on one more thing I'll shoot you!!!”

I'm an active guy and like to be involved in things.  That being said, I have to admit that I've been running myself ragged lately trying to keep up with everything.

So how do I know when to say no and when to say yes?

It's a tricky question, without an easy answer.

Right now I'm leading various groups, coaching a Toastmasters club, writing articles and managing this site, participating in committees and attending board meetings for the Red Cross, raising 5 kids, and managing a company.

These are all good things individually.

Taken all together?

Even I have to admit it's a bit much.

My default response is to say yes when I think something is a good idea.  Saying yes is part of what got me to the level I'm at career wise.  On the other hand, saying no is also part of what got me here.

At some point, you've got to take control of your schedule and say no to things, even if they are good things.  Like juggling, if you try to get too many things going at once, they all come crashing down when you aren't able to keep up with them.  You have to focus if you want to be effective.

Juggling priorities
How many things can we juggle before everything crashes?

That's where I am today.  Saying no to things that are not on the top of my priority list even if they are good things while trying to say yes to those that are.

  • YES to spending time with my kids.
  • YES to spending time with my wife.
  • YES to taking the time to enjoy my life.
  • YES to focusing on my core business.
  • YES to key activities that add value to my life.

  • NO to another Tough Mudder.
  • NO to a blogger mastermind group.
  • NO to busy work that is not productive.
  • NO to adding more unnecessary obligations.
  • NO to time wasters that do not add value to my life.

It's tough to do but needs to be done to keep my sanity, allow me to be effective with the commitments I have already made, and allow me time to be involved at home.

I'll keep saying yes to the top things on my priority list, and doing my best to say no to most everything else. 

How about you?

What do you need to say no to?

What do you need to say yes to?

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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