Teachers can’t say no?

N O spells NO

'The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing'

You're never not just saying NO. When you say YES you're saying NO to an infinite number of other things.

Why is it so hard in the moment to choose what’s important over what's not important?

Maybe you're unclear on what is important in that moment? This fog makes us feel defenceless, and it's why we say yes even when we don't want to. We're pretty good at knowing what we don't want, especially in the moment, but often we have no idea what we DO want... and that's why we end up doing what others want, because we know we don't want to rock the boat, and we especially don't want that yucky feeling that comes with 'letting someone down'.

Saying NO can to many bring on literal physical discomfort! Our natural instinct for most is to avoid that sick, twisted fear feeling, but what if on the other side was a wonderful place. 'Everything you not yet have is on the other side of discomfort'.

Think of 'saying NO' like a muscle. If you haven't used it, it's very weak, it's shaky, and it feels unnatural. But if used enough, over time, it can become very strong. If you try and lift something too heavy too early, it could end badly - more on that later.

Saying NO means often regretting it for a few minutes, maybe a few days in extreme cases.

Saying YES can mean regretting it for days, weeks, months or even years! It's a huge sacrifice to avoid a moment of discomfort isn't it?

Here's a question, do you admire people who are fairly steadfast in their honest, yet polite declines of invitations? Those who have boundaries and have clear expectations of themselves and others? Perhaps saying NO in the short term might inconvenience someone occasionally, but in the long term, there's a good chance people will respect you even more! And this new lease on life will clear out all the 'users' who don't truly care about you at all. Remember, saying no to the request is not saying no to the relationship.

If you're still reading, there's a chance you wish you could say no more often... Here's how. Don't look at the summit of the mountain, just take one step, that's it. Start with ONE NO. Feel that fear, and do it anyway. Start with someone who's close to you, tell them in advance 'I'm practicing my NO'. Then do another ONE NO. Practice with the stranger in the supermarket line, or the persistent sales person, and build to the most you're willing to, because even ONE NO means being able to say YES to something else which really matters to you.

Sam Phelps

Guest blog post.

This article is Inspired by the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown