Taking Command: The Power of Saying No

Are you taking command of your life? 

Are you filling your day with truly meaningful objectives and actions that fulfill and inspire you?

Or are you letting the overruling world around you determine your fate?

If you do not fill your day with high-priority actions that inspire you, it will fill up with low-priority distractions that don’t. If you do not bring order to your life, disorder will rule your destiny. The former will empower and vitalize you; the latter will disempower and drain you.

Regardless of fortune, status, or success, we all have the same exact amount of time every day, 24 hours. That’s it. And getting our most important and inspiring actions done each day is not about managing time; it is about focusing our attention (and intention) wisely during the precious time we have. There is no such thing as true time management. It is simply how you utilize the time you have that determines your fulfillment level. Your time is your life, and your life planning and management system can be judged by the overall fulfillment it produces.

In order to focus on your central bullseye of long-term/high-priority actions, it is important to first take command of your daily schedule and become a master of planning and delegation. I’ll say it again, when you fill your day with high priority actions, it doesn’t fill up with low priority ones. The former awakens your forebrain’s executive center; the latter uncages the unruly and distracted animal within. Since there can be more than one kind of high priority action, it’s wise to define them accordingly by prioritizing what is thought to be the highest of the highest priorities in each area or aspect of your life.

When you are unclear about what your true highest priorities are and have difficulty saying no, distractions can consume your time, attention, energy, focus, power of concentration, and productive capacity. Such distractions can derail you from greatly achieving or fulfilling what you would actually love. If you are ambitious and desire great achievements, you must first master the art of saying no. This often requires pausing for a moment, taking adeep breath, and responding to requests and offers with answers like:

“Thank you, but no thank you; I do appreciate your request/offer though.” 

“Thank you for the offer, but at this/that time, my schedule is full and will not allow for your request.”

“I appreciate your invitation, but at this/that time I am not available.”

“No thank you, that will not work for me. I have other plans at this/that time.”

“No thank you that does not exactly inspire or appeal to me.”

“Thank you for the opportunity, but I am going to pass at this time.”

“I would first love to check my calendar, schedule, and itinerary and then possibly get back to you later.”

“Thank you for the opportunity, but I love giving my all to my projects, and I have other very high priority projects on my plate at present and so I could not give it my all.”

Give yourself permission to say no. Saying no to low priority distractions and yes to high priority actions is the key to success. Focus on and stick to what really matters most. You cannot please everyone, so don’t even begin to try. Saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no will cost you far greater opportunities down the road. Your time is finite. If you don’t make your life about what you would love to say yes to, it will become filled with what you intended to say no to. Embrace the trade-off. If the answer to whether to do something or not is not a clear and definite yes, then make it a no.

Say no gracefully and you will receive respect. To make your life a masterpiece, deliberately subtract or eliminate your trivial, unimportant, unnecessary, and irrelevant actions. Consider the benefits of telling people no and clearing away any burdening emotions. Take command of your time before others do and tell them the truth — or they may keep pestering and derailing you. Your intentional limits can help you become limitless. Integrity and occasional tactful bluntness get the job done. True friends or colleagues will respect you and your priorities and will honor your time.

Many distractions initiated by others are opportunistic in nature. Gracefully, respectfully, and reasonably saying “no” may temporarily disappoint the opportunist, but eventually it will lead them to respecting you even more. No one respects a pushover. Hedge a short-term popularity loss for a long-term gain in respect and achievement.

You also shouldn’t try to do everything yourself. Be willing to ask for and receive help. Find somewhere to be present or work that takes you out of the path of disruption and interruption. Get a vacant, quiet room with a closed door and a “Do Not Disturb” sign. Shut off your phone and disconnect from the Wi-Fi until a more ideal, designated time. Let others know the times you are and are not available. Let nothing or no one have permission to distract you from your highest priority actions.

It is time to take command of your life by creating and scheduling the undistracted, secluded space and time to creatively concentrate, think, reflect, focus, explore, ponder, write, and then take inspired action. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, exhale slowly and be truly present in the moment and chief commander of your life. Ask yourself what is truly most important. Because by transcending the outer world, you can more acutely focus on what is truly most important now — building a great future.

About The Author

Dr. John Demartini

Dr. John Demartini, one of the world's leading authorities and educators on human behavior and leadership development, is the founder of the Demartini Institute, which offers an extensive curriculum of more than 72 courses on self-development, life mastery and leadership. Demartini's knowledge is the culmination of 39-plus years of crossdisciplinary research, and he travels internationlly full time, addressing audiences in media, seminars and consultations. He is the author of more than 40 self-development books, including the bestseller The Breakthrough Experience, and he has produced numerous audio CDs and DVDs discussing financial and business mastery, relationship development, health and healing, the art of communication, and inspiring education and leadership. Demartini has been featured in film documentaries such as The Secret; The Opus; and Oh My God, alongside Ringo Starr, Seal and Hugh Jackman; and he has shared the stage with influential educators Stephen Covey, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra and Donald Trump. He has appeared on Larry King Live, The Early Show and Wall Street, as well as in publications Shape, Leadership, Success, Prestige, Entrepreneur and O.

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