The Power of NO in Goals

Why NO is the most powerful word in your vocabulary 

Do you realize two million bits of information come at us every day?? It is a non-stop barrage of information vying for our attention all day long. Have you wondered if the information coming at us is helping or hindering in achieving our dreams? If you haven’t considered it, here is the answer: It is hindering! This is why NO is the most powerful word in your vocabulary. 

Think about all of the ways information distracts you: 

  • Mobile devices (phones, tablets, watches) 
  • Apps for devices
  • Work devices
  • News/media
  • Social media
  • Publications
  • Advertisements
  • Podcasts
  • YouTube and videos
  • Movies and series
  • Internet
  • Email
  • Texting

It’s a never-ending list. Now think about how much time each day you give attention to these. When you stop and add it up, the amount of time is staggering! I realized this when I wanted to achieve a big dream (Ironman World Championships), as well as my daily responsibilities for work and life. What I found was to achieve both meant learning to say NO to distractions that were going to take needed time away from my dreams.

To achieve my dream and responsibilities (which funded the dream, quite frankly) I had to complete 2-3 workouts per day, six days per week, along with leading a professional office. This meant I was forced to finish my work during the day within specific hours because the rest of the time had to be dedicated to workouts, preparing and cleaning up from workouts; preparing food to eat on the fly; seeing a physical therapist, massage therapist and chiropractor regularly; and getting enough sleep to do all of it. Whew! 

What to do

I share this because even if you aren’t pursuing an Ironman, your life is the same, with tons of things vying for your time and attention. And rather than say you can do it all, the truth is you can’t. You have to say NO to the things that will eat up the time from achieving your dreams. 

Here’s what I had to learn to say NO to: 

  • Watching tv at night
  • Long, unfocused work meetings
  • Meetings that didn’t absolutely require my presence
  • Mobile device distractions: texting, checking email, apps, notifications from multiple devices
  • Going down bunny trails – googling or YouTubing things that came up during the day
  • Social media
  • Going to bed late

What you say NO to will probably look a little different and that’s okay!

How it works

When I said NO to these things, I got so much time back. It was amazing how much time I had been spending on them. I didn’t notice the total because each thing was different, but when it was contextualized through my dream and the possibility of failing to achieve it, it became clear. And you know what? Once I said NO to these things, it felt so much better that I didn’t miss them. My thoughts were clearer, I was more productive, and alleviated that feeling of not having enough time to do everything. We all suffer that feeling. 

No To People

There was another thing I learned to say NO to which was the people I surrounded myself with. I’m talking about those who were energy vampires, negative Nellies, Debbie Downers or drama queens. I no longer had time to waste on them. Also, people who imposed their limiting beliefs on me about my capabilities. You know the type. They say, “Oh, I don’t think you should do that, it sounds really hard.” Or, “how will you ever do that?” If they weren’t going to encourage and help me find the ways I could achieve my goals, and I them, I couldn’t waste time with them. This process also brought others along who craved achieving their dreams and hadn’t been able to. We helped each other. 

So, if this is familiar to you, take on this challenge: 

  1. List and add up all the time you are wasting on distractions each day
  2. Practice saying NO (this is a new pattern for most humans)
  3. Say NO to the distractions keeping you from achieving your dreams* 
  4. Revel in the expansive amount of time you now have! Share these steps with others so they can too. 

*Turn off your device periodically or only check it at specific times during the day (at the very least, turn off notifications). I chose three times, two at the office, once at night. Do the same thing with emails and texts. Set up an auto response to let people know when they will hear back so they don’t leave multiple messages over different channels. 

Choose specific times to check social media and go down the bunny trails of Google and YouTube, and stick to them. Every time you go down a bunny trail it takes 7 seconds to get back on track, along with the time you spend on it. When you do this multiple time per day it adds up big. 


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