The ultimate goal of this Starting Well Challenge is to develop a playbook for the upcoming year (or the upcoming selected period time, if you happen to start this midyear) that helps us focus on the priorities and outcomes that are most important.
One of the most vital skills in maintaining focus is the ability to say ‘No.’
Taking on too many projects drains our limited time, energy, and resources. The remainder of these 14 days hinges on our ability to say ‘no’ to opportunities that simply don’t fit what we’ve committed to.
Saying ‘No’ isn’t about being selfish. It’s about being protective.
When we say yes to every other person’s agenda or even our own lazy agendas (yes, I’m talking about TV, poor food choices, technological procrastination and distraction), we squeeze out the prioritized relationships and outcomes we already committed to.
When you say yes to things you shouldn’t, you retreat from your Battle Lines and go fight someone else’s. The casualties are your relationships with God, your spouse, your children, your health, your financial well-being, and personal goals.
Many of us have struggled with over-commitment for years. While we still accomplish things and make progress, we know that we could be much more effective if we were much more selective.
So let’s practice saying ‘No’
Here are some questions to ask when confronted with a new opportunity:
- Why? Why should you say ‘yes’ to this request on your time, money, or energy? When you come up with your reason, is the reason actually good?
- Does it fit? Does this opportunity dovetail with the Battle Lines you have previously set?
- Does it build your most important relationships? Does this opportunity strengthen your relationships with God, your spouse, your children, your closest friends?
- Does it leave you with any margin? Do you, honestly, have any mental or emotional bandwidth to take on something else? If you say ‘yes’ to this new opportunity, will your calendar be overly-stressed?
Using current commitments of your time, energy, and resources, use the four questions above and practice saying ‘No’.
Here’s a suggested method:
- Write out your current commitments: Mentally walk through your schedule, writing down the things that take your time and other resources.
- Place each current commitment under it’s appropriate Battle Line: For instance, attending basketball practice with your daughter might fit under the ‘Parenting’ battle line. (You’ll have to create a miscellaneous category because you probably have commitments that don’t fit).
- Decide which commitments need to go: Ask the questions above to see if the commitment should stay or go.
- Decide which ones need to be under major surveillance to be reevaluated later. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but you must be ruthless.
- Make the phone call (or write the email): Select one item right now to strike from your list of commitments. Call or email someone. Cancel the lunch, resign from the committee, fire the client.
- Make another call: Do another review of your commitments. Honestly, do those people who needed you… do they really need you? Do your children, your parents, your spouse need you to do the thing that is taking even more of your time? Do the goals, dreams, outcomes you selected require you to do it?
Basically, create a Stop Doing List. Write down the things that you will stop doing.
Congratulations! Day 6 is in the books. If you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back or say ‘yes’ to a candy bar or something.
Preview Day 7: Saying ‘No’ is important because we’re about to transfer our Dream Big list to our Battle Lines and figure out which ones will most help us move toward the picture we painted on Day 5. That means we’ll have to say ‘No’ to some… at least for now.
Don’t forget that we have a Starting Well Challenge Resource page with links to the worksheets, posts, and other resources.
Finally, if this series is at all helpful, please share with your friends by using the social media buttons below or sending them the link. You can also direct them to the sign up page: 2014 Starting Well Challenge