Another prompt from Tim Ferris: In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

I have a couple of answers to this one: My initial thought is that I’ve gotten better at saying no to things I don’t want to do. I used to feel like I had to accept every invitation that came along whether that was for a coffee date with a stranger to an argument that someone wanted to have online. I felt like I had to respond. Now I am much better at checking in with myself and saying “Is this a conversation that I really want to have? Do I really want to go to this event?” And if the answer is a resounding no then I just decline. Sometimes I’ll still do things I don’t really want to do if I feel like they might lead to an opportunity I do want, but for the most part if I really don’t want to do it I say no.

I’ve also gotten a lot better about setting and respecting boundaries. No, I will no do that type of speaking gig. No, I will not answer that question about my body. No, I will no go into that place with that person who won’t use the right pronouns for me.

I am still working on saying no to distractions. I still spend too much time on my phone and playing silly games on my ipad. I am still too quick to respond to every email ding and message alert, even when I am in the middle of something else. I still fill my schedule too full while not leaving enough time to do the creative work I am really meant to do. But I’m working on it.

When it comes to tips I’d say the biggest thing that has helped me is to get really clear on what it is I am called to do and what it is I really want. Who do I want to be? What types of relationships do I want to have? What is the work that I am best at and that really feeds my soul? Once I was able to get clear on some of those things it became a lot easier to set boundaries around things that didn’t add to that. Once I really allowed myself to believe that I am allowed to flourish, that happiness is okay, that things don’t need to be hard just for the sake of being hard (yay fundamentalist upbringing!) I was able to start saying no with more confidence. So that’s my advice: Get clear on what you really want and who you want to be surrounded by and what you’re willing to do to create the life you want to live.

I also still really believe in this post I wrote several years ago about saying No to say Yes.

What about you?

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