You say “yes” way too often.

One of the reasons Americans lead busy lives, running from one thing to another, stressed out, doing just enough to get the job done but not really excelling at anything, is that we say yes too much.

I fall into the same trap. Between client work, business development opportunities, time with my wife, fitness, friends, oh and sleep, my life can get full in a minute. I can tell it’s happened when I wake up in the middle of the night, remembering something I was supposed to do or a meeting I missed.

There are a lot of reasons we over-obligate: We don’t want to let someone down, we feel bad about saying “no” (sure I’ll show up at your BBQ on Sunday), we feel like were supposed to do more, we feel like were failing if we don’t say yes, or maybe we actually really want to be involved.

For me, it’s usually that someone asks me to participate in something that sounds really fun, or valuable. But before I know it, I’m skipping workouts, I’m not present when I’m with my wife, I’m only home one night a week, and I’m not making progress on my long-term goals.


Our culture tells us not only that we can do it all, but that we should feel guilty if we don’t try. What it doesn’t make clear is that when we buy in to that message we sacrifice everything that makes life worth living (relationships, health, and peace of mind.)

In order to simplify my life and focus on the most important things, I use a powerful, but underused tool. It’s called “rejectitude”. It is a combination of gratitude and rejection; thank you and no. Here’s what it sounds like:

“Thank you so much for the offer. I’m going to pass.”

“Normally, I would say yes, but I am really focused on not over obligating myself right now. Maybe next time.”

“I would love to but I know that if I said yes, I wouldn’t be able to give it the energy and attention it deserves.”

“It sounds like a lot of fun, but I can’t take it on right now. I am actually looking to shed a few obligations, not add one.”

“Thank you for asking me, it’s just not a fit right now.”

“No thank you.” ***warm smile***

One of the tricky ways the Resistance has of distracting us from our important work, is to get us busy with so much other crap that we have valid excuses for why we can’t … be a better father, pursue our life’s purpose, start our company, write our book, go back to school, or spend quality time with our wife.

The key is to do less.

Thank you, and no.


What should you say “no” to?