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Do you want to be successful? Then, you may need to try using the word, “No,” more often!

“If you want to be successful, you will have to learn how to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the great.”

I once heard Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, use this phrase when communicating the importance of setting boundaries.  That statement really triggered some deep, palpable emotions for me.  I realized I was saying ‘yes’ to a great many things for reasons that were not necessarily empowering to my circumstances.

Saying ‘no’ can be daunting; we want to please people, we feel as though we are letting others down, or perhaps we fear that people will not like us if we start saying ‘no.’

The word ‘no’ often triggers a host of emotions. We recall being denied as a child or the rejection that came when we made a sales call. The word ‘no’ is something that the wealthiest, most successful people on the planet use on a daily basis, and if we want to be successful, then saying ‘no’ must become a part of our regular vocabulary. The wealthy understand that ‘no’ is not often personal; it is merely a matter of a quick assessment – will saying ‘yes’ to this get me closer to my goal?  If not, the answer is ‘no.’

People who struggle in life tend to say ‘yes’ to the wrong things. They say ‘yes’ to must-see TV when they fully understand that their family is feeling neglected. They say ‘yes’ to, ‘Do you want a second, or third, helping?’ when they know they have weight to release. They say ‘yes’ to, ‘Let’s go out for drinks tonight,’ instead of doing the sales calls they know they should make.

Your life right now is a result of what you have chosen to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to. If you want a different result, then it is time to start saying, ‘no’ in a graceful, tactful and deliberate way.

Here are three key questions to keep in mind when deciding whether to say ‘yes’ or ‘no‘:

  • • Does this move me closer to my dreams?
  • • Does this take me further away from my dreams?
  • • Does this allow me to dream?

 I am often asked for my time for a variety of reasons. I used to say ‘yes’ to every request because of my perceptions that I would let people down if I wasn’t always available. What ultimately happened was that I ended up resenting all of the commitments I had made; at the heart of the matter, I was disappointed in myself for saying ‘yes’ to so much. When I truly began to value my time and stepped back to take a moment to ask myself the key questions from the previous chapter, things began to shift. Today, I do say ‘no,’ and although it sometimes feels a little bit challenging, at the end of the day, I understand that my time is finite. I create space to do more of the things that take me toward my dreams by saying ‘no’ to those things that are only so-so.

The more successful you become, the more people will ask you for time, money and all sorts of things. You may be struggling financially right now, but that is a reflection of what you have chosen to say ‘yes’ to, and by no means is that an excuse to not say ‘no.’ If something does not take you toward your dreams or allow you to dream, then ‘no’ is perfectly fine. For example, let’s say a friend has a ‘make money quick scheme,’ and you realize in your heart that it doesn’t feel right. Although the allure of up front money may be tempting, you would only be saying ‘yes’ for the wrong reasons. You might feel that perhaps you would be letting down your friend if you do not get involved, or there might be the seduction of quick money without really giving thought to how your short-term actions may affect your overall life.

Saying ‘no’ requires being bold, assertive and trusting your gut. It also illustrates an individual who is clear on their goals and values their time.  Setting boundaries is essential in business, and  there are gracious ways to say ‘no.’  Being able to create proper boundaries will lead to greater productivity and will free us up  to do more of the things that shape the life we want to live.


Susan Sly is a best selling author, speaker and entrepreneur. She has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime Television and the CBN. Susan is the mother of five children and resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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