Learn To Say No (So That You Can Say Yes)

It’s almost January, which means that many of us will be setting goals for the new year. That probably means that there’s something you’d like to add to your life, or something you want to start doing more consistently.

However, I’d like to encourage you to adopt a slightly out of the norm resolution: pruning.

Brilliant ideas often bubble up in the white space – the areas between our frenetic activity – and if you don’t take care to intentionally carve that white space, you might find that you’re active, but not productive. (There is a very big difference between the two!)

Here are four areas I encourage you to aggressively prune in 2017:

1. Projects. Are there any that are essentially on life support, but still take up far too much of your time and attention? Take a good, hard look at the projects on your plate and make a bold decision about which needs to go away so that you have the bandwidth to focus on more important ones.

2. Recurring tasks and meetings. Are there any regular commitments that were once helpful, but have now grown stale? Perhaps it’s a meeting that was at one time of great benefit to everyone, but is now just an artifact of a past project. Maybe it’s a recurring task that you do just because you’ve always done it, and you simply need to drop so that you can focus on something that actually adds value.

3. Relationships. This one is tough, but necessary. In truth, when you’re on-mission you need to be hyper-diligent about the relationships you choose to build into, and the ones you choose to abstain from. Are there any relationships in your life that need to be pruned for the sake of your greater vision?

4. Personal expectations. Finally, consider where you may have artificially escalated your expectations to the point that they are suffocating you. Everyone wants to succeed, but sometimes the baseline of our expectations can create a stifling environment for budding ideas. Are there any expectations that need to be pruned back so that you can really tackle the work that is both meaningful and contributive?

As difficult as it may be, sometimes something very good has to “die” so that something better can be born. Have the courage to prune boldly so that you have the available space you need to pour yourself into your work.

(If you’d like to listen to the podcast version, where I elaborate on these four areas, it’s right here.)

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  1. David Heidrich

    Hard advice for me to follow, but a friend once nudged me with:
    “The quantity of my Nos will directly correlate to the quality of my Yeses”

    • Todd Henry

      Love this, David. Fantastic advice.


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I'm Todd Henry.

I'm Todd Henry.

I write books, speak internationally on productivity, creativity, leadership, and passion for work, and help people and teams generate brilliant ideas.

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