You don’t have to let yourself be terrorized by other people’s expectations of you
(Sue Patton Thoele – Author of The courage to be yourself)
Today we are more accessible to people than ever before, because of the explosion of communications technology. Complete strangers can reach you by mobile phone, e mail, telephone, fax, regular mail and social media such as Linked inn, Facebook, Twitter etc. They can e mail and text message you at work, at home and while you are on holiday. If you are not there, they can leave messages on your answering machine and your voice mail or if you are there, interrupt you with a call waiting. Just completing your daily tasks and pursuing your longer term goals, have become a great challenge.
We are taking on more than we can comfortably deliver in an unconscious desire to impress others, to get ahead, and keep up with others’ expectations. Meanwhile our top priorities goes unaddressed, as everyone wants a piece of you! To be successful in achieving your goals, you will have to get good at saying “no” to all of the people and distractions that would otherwise devour you.
The first step: Don’t just delegate – Eliminate ! If you are going to increase your results, your income, and time for yourself (R&R), you are going to have to eliminate those tasks, requests and other time-stealers that don’t have a high pay-off. You will have to structure your work so that you are focusing your time, effort, energies and resources on projects and opportunities that give you a huge reward for your efforts. You will have to set strong boundaries about what you will and won’t do.
Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, motivates to start a “stop doing list” as well as a “to do list”. Then make the things on your “don’t list” policies. People respond to policies as boundaries. On a personal level some of these policies may be “I don’t lend money to people; I don’t lend my car out; I don’t discuss charity contributions on the phone, send me something in writing” On a business level some of these may be “I don’t lend my books to others – they don’t come back; I don’t do individual training – there is more leverage in a group; I don’t book more than 2 office visits per day; I don’t take any appointments on a Monday – it is my planning and preparation day”
The second step” “It’s not against you; its for me”. Jack Canfield explains this well in his book, The Success Principles. Even as children, many of us learned that No is an unacceptable answer. We are afraid that it may count against us later and lead to a poor evaluation or prevent us from moving up the corporate ladder. Yet, highly successful people say No all the time. “No” to crazy deadlines, questionable priorities and other people’s crises. A response that will make you feel better in saying no to a crisis appeals or time-robbing requests is ” its not against you, it’s for me”. Explain it like this to the person asking for your dedication to a cause outside your policy or commitment to another priority. ” My saying no to you is not against you or what you are trying to do. In fact I support it and think It’s a worthy cause , but I have recently made a commitment to spent more time with my family as I have been over committing myself. It’s not against you, it’s for us” Few people should be angry at you for making a stand in favour of a higher commitment. They may actually respect you for your clarity and strength.
The third step: Say No to the good – so that you can say Yes to the Great! If you surveyed your life and write down those activities that brought you the most success, financial gain, most advancement and enjoyment, you would discover that 20% of your activities, produces about 80% of your success (The Pareto principle at work).
How rapidly could you reach your goals and improve your life if you say No to the time wasting activities – mundane and non productive? Instead focus on the 20% that brings you the most benefit!
Well, nothing happens until you take action!
Jim Collins explains how one could go about determining what’s truly great so you can say no to what’s merely good.
- Start by listing you opportunities. One side of the page for the “good”, and the other side for the “great”. Seeing it in writing will crystallize your thinking, help you determine which questions to ask, what information to gather and what your plan of action may be. It will help you establish of an opportunity truly fits in with your life purpose , or are you just going down a dead end?
- Talk to advisors about a new potential pursuit. Speak to people who have traveled the road before. They may have vast experience to share and talk to you about expected challenges.
- Test the waters. Rather than take a leap of faith that the new opportunity will deliver what you expect, conduct a small test first. Spend a limited amount of time and money. for instance, If it’s a new career, first seek part time work or independent consulting in that field.
- Look at where you spend your time. Determine if those activities truly serve your goals or if saying no would free up your schedule for more focused pursuits.