I remember it like it was yesterday. Jim Burns, a personal mentor of mine, was teaching a group of young leaders about 25 years ago, and he had us all say the word NO out loud. Repeat it he said. Practice saying NO. The point he was making was that as young leaders, many of us thought that we had to do everything, and he was teaching us that we can’t do it all and maintain our health, our sanity and our relationships. We had to learn how to make decisions about what we would do and wouldn’t do.
I have remembered this lesson often over the past 25 years. I’ve practiced it, and I wish I could say that I have had victory in this all the time, but I can’t. I’ve tried to do too much. I’ve tried to do everything. At times I actually believed that if I didn’t do something, that no one else could do it! However, I have said no, I have tried to live by my priorities and I’ve said no to some pretty amazing things because they didn’t fit.
It’s an ongoing process of learning, practicing, failing and succeeding.
Do you know how to say NO? Do you say YES to things that you shouldn’t?
There are 4 things that need to drive your decision-making process. Focus on these first, and they will help you determine what to say yes to and what to say no to:
What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? What do you care about? What have you been placed on this earth to do or be?
What are you hoping to accomplish? What is your plan? What are you investing your life in doing? How are you doing that?
What are you able to do? What are your gifts? What are you really good at? What are you really bad at? We all have weaknesses. Do you know what your weaknesses are?
What’s important for you today? What’s urgent and important? What’s not-urgent and important? (Quadrant II). Do your priorities line up with your passion and your mission?
Spend some time working in these 4 areas of your life, and learning to say NO will come easier.