One of the biggest problems in society is that we are taught to follow trends and move through life without questioning authority. School, as well as post-secondary education, teaches us to follow rules, please our teachers, and follow trends so we fit in. While seemingly harmless, you’re learning to prioritize other people over your own personal and professional success.
One of the biggest lessons in life for a successful person is learning to say no. I can’t stress enough the power of the word no.
1. You Establish Boundaries
You indeed teach people how to treat you. The way you see the world around you is a reflection of what’s going on inside of you. When you establish firm boundaries, you protect your time and energy because you don’t allow other people to take advantage of you. Start small and work your way up over a period of time. It can be difficult to set and maintain boundaries because you’ve been conditioned since early childhood to say “yes” and agree with society.
This has been harming you, albeit unknowingly because you are now uncomfortable with saying “no.” To set and maintain boundaries, however, you must start saying no to people, places, and things that are no longer serving you or hindering your progress. If you’re not evolving, your growth is slowing and you eventually become your own worst enemy.
2. You become more focused
Now that you’re in a routine of setting and maintaining your boundaries, you have the time and energy to focus on what matters most. The most common areas of personal development in life are work, family, health, and wealth, to name a few. If any of these are ignored, your life loses balance and you are out of alignment with purposeful living.
When you prioritize what matters most, you can budget your time, energy, and resources in these areas so you can function optimally. Having control over your own life will set your mind at ease because you’re doing the best you can with what you can control. This isn’t to say you have to live like a robot and work constantly; this knocks you out of balance because you’re ignoring the other areas of your life that need attention.
My point is that setting and maintaining boundaries allows you to be more focused and work on what matters.
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffett
3. You take back your power
Saying “no” lets you take back your power because protecting your time and energy is an act of self-discipline that sets you up to exceed in all areas of your life. Life is full of distractions, from friends who drain us of our energy, to wasting time thinking negative thoughts and obsessing over what could happen. When you discipline yourself to cut these activities out, you’re making yourself a priority because you’re doing what’s best for you.
Now, some people may try to criticize you but remember, only you know what’s best for you. The only way to combat the negative aspects of this world is to work on yourself, step up to the plate, and protect your own space so you can maintain a healthy balance in all areas of your life. Although saying “no” may not sound agreeable at first, people-pleasing is an act that will rapidly drain you before you can achieve your goals. Excessively saying “yes” to everyone and everything is only giving away your power.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, so learn to say no and take back your power.
4. Gain respect and appreciation
When people observe you set and maintain firm boundaries and you prioritize your own life, people realize they cannot take advantage of you. This reduces your risk of being an easy target for people who want to bring you down because you refuse to lower your standards for anyone else. This will ultimately lead to people respecting you because you respect yourself, by protecting your own life and creating meaning in everything you do.
Again, it may seem uncomfortable at first, but saying no and being firm in your response communicates to others that you have priorities and you won’t allow anyone or anything to get in the way of your goals. Choose people, places, activities and things that support you and have your best interest at heart. This may mean keeping your circle of friends small and investing more time learning a new skill after work, or sometimes just letting things be so you can relax.
When others see that you respect yourself and limit people and activities that can hinder your progress, they will respect you because you command it.
5. You Learn Self-Empowerment
This is your life and only you can determine how far you’ll go. Parents, teachers, coaches, and bosses can guide you, only you can determine what opportunities you take and how much effort you put into them. This is because it’s your life and only you know what you truly want. It may take time and years of exploration to find your likes and dislikes, but this is part of the equation- you have to go out and try new things.
People are trained from childhood to please their parents and teachers, but learning to say “no” is one of the greatest life lessons because you’re firm in your decision to govern your own life. Parents and teachers generally want what’s best for you to live the life they may not have had, but in the end, you must determine the course of your own life.
There’s no one else in the world who is you, so cultivate your talents and apply yourself relentlessly so you can go as far as you can.
One of the biggest lessons I learned is that there should be a lot more “no’s” than “yes’s” in your life if you want to maximize your full potential. If someone or something is not moving you forward, it’s holding you back because you’re valuable and worthy of so much more. Saying no is the key to taking back your power and living a life of prosperity.