When to Say "Yes" and When to Say "No"

By Michael Masterson

I make a lot of commitments that unnecessarily add stress to my life. Why I find it so difficult to say “no,” I can’t say. But it’s something I’m teaching myself to do.

The first step is to figure out when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” Here’s what I’ve come up with…

1. Say “yes” – often but not always – to two people: your spouse and your business partner.

2. Say “no” – as often as you possibly can – to everyone who asks you for help. This would include:

  • your lazy colleague
  • your shiftless friend
  • your spoiled children/grandchildren
  • your most self-centered customers
  • anyone who isn’t willing to give back

Here’s something else you can do to lighten your load and maintain your forward momentum:

  • Write a list of 20 things – people, situations, responsibilities – that cause you stress.
  • Reduce that list to 10.
  • Reduce it again to three.
  • Now pick one of those three – and stop doing it.

If you are like me, the thing that is creating the most stress in your life right now is something you are doing to help out someone who doesn’t deserve it. And if you’re like me, you feel guilty about even thinking about stopping.

Do yourself a favor. Call him up right now and tell him very definitively that you are going to stop doing it at the end of this day/week/month/year. Offer a simple explanation. Don’t feel the need to elaborate. If he objects, say “I’m sorry that this will be inconvenient for you. I am sure you will be fine in the end. But the decision has been made.”

And stick to it.

Try it. You’ll be amazed at how good it makes you feel. Do that and don’t take on another responsibility for at least 24 hours

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