Hi again Francesca!
I'm super passionate about helping people create abundance:
- abundant time
- abundant energy
- abundant money
- abundant tables
- abundant success
- abundant LOVE
Sounds like a lot of "yes!", but today, I want to share my rather unlikely magic word with you...
The Magic Word : No
The most powerful tool in your arsenal to create abundance is the word “No!” That might sound counterintuitive. When people think of “slow living” they might think of baking bread or weaving, and when people think of abundance they might think of a big loving family, loads of free time, or straight dollah dollah bills y'all, but I don’t think the first thing that comes to mind when people think of abundance and slow living is the word “No!” But it's the key to the kingdom.
Because, as my mother always said (thanks, mom!), every time you say “yes" to something, you say “no" to something else. In one of my favorite books, “The One Thing” (also a gift from mom!), Gary Keller recalls someone once telling him that “every ‘yes’ must be defended over time by 1000 'no’s’”.
This. Is. So. TRUE. We must defend our time and the things that matter to us: our spiritual and physical well-being, our selves, our key relationships & community, our homes, our businesses & jobs, and our personal finances.
If we don’t, our time will bleed out of a million little paper cuts like:
- an internet distraction here
- a social “obligation” we didn’t really want to go to
- responding to an email we didn’t need or ask for
- a work project that doesn’t pay our rate or that we hate but said yes to anyway
- cleaning up clutter we don’t even need
- working on things we think we “should” do because everyone else seems to that don’t really produce meaningful results
The list goes on.
When do we say "no"? How do we know what to say “no” to and what to say “yes” to? In another of my favorite books, “Essentialism”, Greg McKeown puts it pretty simply: if it isn’t a “hell yes!”, it’s a “no”.
And he suggests that far, far more things are going to be a “no” than a “hell yes!” Remember, 1000 "no"’s to every one "yes"! Okay, maybe not literally, but you get the idea: you should be saying "no" to A LOT more than you say "yes" to.
Another way to look at it is through the lens of yet another of my favorite books (are you taking notes yet?), "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. In that book Marie Kondo suggests that we hold the objects we own and discard them if they don’t “spark joy” to declutter.
I like to apply this idea to things other than my material possessions: I believe relationships, jobs we say yes to, and how we spend our time should spark joy. Now, does doing the laundry “spark joy”? Not for me! But having clean clothes does! Sometimes we have to consider the act as a whole including the result to determine if something is worth our time.
But! Remember outsourcing is an option. When assessing necessary tasks, also ask yourself whether that task can be delegated. If it can be done by someone else (freeing you up to do the things ONLY you can do!), then consider saying “no!” to that task and outsourcing it.
Outsourcing isn’t lazy. Done wisely, it’s an efficient and realistic use of your resources. Excellent resources to consider are:
- house keeping help
- a virtual assistant
- copy writers
- graphic designers
- tech folks
- book keepers
We all outsource everyday! When we buy a cup of coffee from the café or a loaf of bread from the bakery, we are outsourcing! There is no shame in it. It is NOT weak. It’s all about deciding whether it’s best for you to spend money or time & energy on a task. Money you can make back, but time is the one thing you can never get back.
Time & energy are currency as much as money because they are the very things we convert into money, so we must choose wisely and do the math. Sometimes it actually SAVES money to spend on outsourcing because your time + energy can be used to work on your job or business and MAKE more than you're spending on the help you need.
Okay, I used to have a total guilt complex. And you might too. So...how do we say no when so much needs to be done and when people are so sweet and well-intentioned? What do you do when someone is directly asking you to do something like collaborate or work with them?
We're trained by society to be agreeable, to say yes, and so many of us labor under the misapprehension that to say no is mean, self-indulgent, or even wasteful. Even if we don’t believe those lies, they can be so internalized that it’s easier said than done.
Guilt, mindlessness, a misconceived notion of “being nice”, and a million other factors can lead us to say “yes” when it should have been a “no”. When you have to say "no", just remember what you’re saying "yes" to! Frame it positively.
When you say "no" to responding to an unsolicited business email and hit "delete" remember you're saying yes to things like your business, current clients, self-care routine, partner, and family! You can also consider having an auto-responder that let's people know what's up or an assistant that responds in your stead.
Keep that best life in your mind's eye, and remember that no one human being can do it all. That is a modern lie. If you want that best life you have to choose it, which means NOT choosing everything else.
If you aren’t kind to yourself, you won’t be able to help anyone else. When saying "no" do so courageously in your own words, without feeling the need to give lengthy explanations or excuses, but compassionately. It will come easier and easier.
And remember: just because a text message, email, or a social media message was sent to you, it does not mean you have to respond. That sounds radical to some people. But I believe that sometimes to say “no” you just say nothing at all! Don’t let the ease of digital communication trick you into thinking you owe a response. You don’t. Give yourself permission to choose instead of react.
Make a list of things you can say “no” to to simplify your life. Maybe this is:
- “no” to too much social media
- “no” to spending an inordinate amount of time on housekeeping and hiring help instead
- “no” to dealing with admin or invoicing and hiring a book keeper or virtual assistant
- “no” to social obligations that don’t bring you joy and staying home instead
- “no” to a toxic relationship
- “no” to a bunch of clothes you never wear and donating them
- "no" to a job that steals your joy
- "no" to a cluttered and overflowing pantry
It can be as much or as little as you like. But write a list of what’s cluttering your time, space, and heart, and see what you can get rid of or outsource in order to make space for the things that matter. You deserve to spend your time where you have the most impact instead of creating a human bottleneck with your name on it!
And remember, it’s a process. You may find you have some big things to say "no" to. Maybe a job, business, or a relationship. And it’s not simple to extricate yourself from big things, major financial obligations, or life long patterns.
But you can do it. And it always starts with the first step. If there are things in your life that don’t serve your vision, develop a plan to free yourself one step at a time.
I hope that you’ll go out today giving yourself permission to say "no" to the non-essential many so that you can say one big, whole hearted "yes!" to the essential few!