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Un-Committing: Why Saying ‘No’ Is Critical To Achieving Your Goals

It’s likely you’ve heard someone say it before. And it’s probably even more likely that you’ve at least once had the same thought. “There are not enough hours in the day!”

There aren’t really, especially with all of the exciting and inspiring opportunities barreling at us from every direction. All of these commitments, of course, pile on top of our already heaping promises to our family, friends, managers, clients, or others. The undertakings we face can be downright astounding.

But how we perceive our obligations can be the key to unlocking the secret to managing them. Who or what determines what we are able to fit into the day? Only you can answer that…but one thing is for sure. There are exactly enough hours in the day to feel how you really want to feel.

Think about it. Longing for more hours in the day to tackle your to-do list is a red flag that your to-do list is probably too long. Now, if your to-do list is filled with tasks leading straight down a road to achieving your goals, then you could be on the right track. But why do we have goals in the first place? We typically set goals because we are longing to feel particular feelings or achieve a certain mindset. We save for that vacation because we want to feel free or joyful. Maybe you decide to go back and get that degree because you want to feel accomplished or more prosperous. Perhaps donating regularly to that non-profit close to your heart would allow you to feel purposeful, satisfied and nurturing.

Commit to un-commit. Are you the resident ‘yes’ person? Are you known to step in and commit when everyone else says, “no” or remains quiet? Maybe it feels uncomfortable or awkward to set boundaries so over-committing often just feels easier. Whatever the reason, it’s important to assess the areas in which you are over-committed and where you need to un-commit immediately. Adopt these simple strategies so that you can start feeling less overwhelmed and more fulfilled as you move closer to your goals.

  1. Set clear criteria for what deserves a ‘yes.’ Be clear on your intended feelings and mindset. It’s possible you’re not clear on your goals, or that your goals are not consistent with the feelings you are actually longing for. Get clear here, and you’ll feel much more confident about where to say no in the face of pressure. It’s possible to preserve your positive reputation and set boundaries at the same time.

  2. Accept that honesty is kindness. If you’ve already committed and realize you’ve made a mistake, it’s ok to be honest. Saying something like, “You know, I realize I made a mistake and that going any further with this commitment would be unfair to everyone. I understand how important this is and would want to make it a priority; however, I’ve realized I’m not able to right now.” Offering sincere apologies and honesty is sometimes the best and kindest thing you can do.

  3. Planning is critical—but the way we plan plays a huge part in just how much we are able to enjoy happiness and success. Lists assume you’ll keep working until something stops you. Common culprits include fatigue, running out of time, or becoming distracted and frustrated. Keep a paper planner and intentionally create a visual plan by accounting for every minute of your day. You’ll immediately see how important it is to avoid opportunities simply because they seem great or unavoidable.

Be unrelenting about allocating your time to the right commitments and enjoy the rewards that follow.

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