I’m currently reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown and it shares essential strategies to deal with our complex and increasingly distracting environment. I need this book! I’m wired like a typical entrepreneur, always open, always collecting new ideas, always trying new strategies and it doesn’t take long before I am once again overwhelmed with a plate of activities I can’t handle. A mile wide and an inch deep. My problem, is that I say “yes” to often and “no” not enough. One very powerful tool mentioned in the book is to be very selective to what we say “yes” to. Our “no’s” create space for what really matters in our life.
The many distractions and demands we face on a regular basis are like cancer. If we allow unnecessary or unimportant demands to take root in our life, they will often grow to choke out the vital elements that support a fulfilling life. The way we typically fight a cancer, whether it’s a cancer of the body or a cancer preying on our fulfillment is by detection and then eradication.
When we are clear on what’s vitally important to us (what we say “hell yes” to), we can begin to cut out those things that interfere. For example, years ago I decided that physical fitness was a critical value for me, so regular exercise and a healthy diet became an important part of my daily program. I can easily say “no” to foods that are not healthy and “no” to anything that could interfere with my daily workout routine. I love to write, but an ever-increasing encroachment of demands limited my time to write. It wasn’t until I began to eliminate the less important demands, that I began to create time to write in earnest. I’m still in the process of surgically eliminating the elements that prey on my highest priorities but I’m making progress. I have dropped memberships, pulled my social media apps off my home page, and most important, I am learning to discern what opportunities/ideas to embrace and which ones to pass on.
A powerful “yes” becomes your true north and everything aligns to that magnetic pull. The more passion behind what you want in your life, the more pull it has and the easier it is to say “no”. Said in a different way; “It’s easy to say no, when there is a deeper yes burning inside” – Steven Covey.
How do we begin to identify our “hell yeses” and eliminate our “no’s”? The first step is to explore what we love, what brings us joy and what we are passionate about. Look at things that saying “no” to are inconceivable to you. Once you have that list, order them from highest value to lowest, then focus on the top 5. Those are your “hell yeses”. Then make another list of everything else in your life that takes up bandwidth and time. If it does not support your top 5 yeses or if it does not add to your joy, consider cutting it out. This can be applied to work projects, recreational activities and even relationships. If it doesn’t support you, if you don’t love it, if it’s not a “hell yes”, get rid of it. Some things may be challenging to cut out, because they have been a part of your life for a long time, but have the courage to cut it anyway. You may have an initial “withdrawal” from the loss of what is deleted from your life, but stay true to your “yes” and your attachment to what you eliminate will diminish and become a faded memory with time.
If you successfully eliminate the competing distractions and low priority activities from your life, you will find a life with more open space resulting in a less stressful, more purposeful lifestyle. A powerful “yes” and a determined “no” are the keys.