Saying yes to people when we don't want to is in some ways like being a shopaholic. Being a shopaholic adds a lot of money debt to our account, for the pleasure of having beautiful things right now. Saying yes to people when we don’t want to adds lots of time debt to our account.
If you are good with money management in fact, and averse to credit card debt, I want you to imagine, every time you are considering saying yes to something you might regret later, the sound of a till swiping your credit card.
Unlike with money, though, it might be tough to find creative ways to earn ourselves more time, and no promotion in the world will give us a time bonus. It would be wonderful to hear someone say: "You've been such a good employee, you earned yourself 3 months free on top of whatever time you previously had in your life. Please feel free to do with it as you please." However, with our current technology level, that is impossible to happen. And even if it were to happen, would you truly enjoy spending this newly awarded time on projects that don't attract you, but you promised other people anyway to accomplish? Or would you rather spend it on things you like? Even in such an ideal world, unless you are saying no skills would be well-formed, you would still end up spending some of this new time on something you don’t like. And if you would not want to spend this bonus virtual time like that, why spend the real, actual time in your hands on things you don’t like?
For many people, saying no is one of the most painful things they experience. It is perceived as a choice between the self and the other, and sometimes a choice between the self and maintaining good relationships (which the self also wants). However, the only way to say YES to the things that matter to us, is to say NO to the things that don't. On every occasion at which we protect your time for our most important project, we increase the likelihood of putting something beautiful and truly authentic out there in the world, rather than just sorting out more tiny unimportant things. And the likelihood that we will be satisfied with ourselves and not live under constant time pressure also increases.
As hard as saying no is, it can be learned, and it can be learned in initially non-threatening settings, until you will manage to say it for the things that truly matter, and for the game changers in which you will gain much more time for your own projects and peace of mind.
While it isn't always wise to say no, many times we can say no with no consequence whatsoever, and there is an art in saying no with grace and, with the right people, with a sense of humour. There will always be boring tasks that you cannot avoid, and things that must be done. However, saying no helps you regain your self-esteem, and helps others remember that your time is valuable.
Treat your time as the most important commodity in the world, if you want to be rich in it, and don't throw it on everything that shows up in front of you. Would you spend money to buy something you didn't want only not to upset a shop assistant, or a friend that might have recommended it? Of course, you wouldn't, as we are generally much more aware of the value of our money, than the value of our time. As you would refuse an unwise purchase, refuse to pledge your time to things that you don't believe in, that are unnecessary.
What helps is to see yourself in the shoes of your future you. And estimate how much such an apparent small courtesy of saying yes might cost you in the future. How minutes or hours of boredom, how much tiredness with no resulting gain that you value will you have to undergo if you say yes today? If you feel yourself trying to avoid the discomfort of saying no, try to estimate the time this 30 seconds to 1-minute discomfort of saying no in the present will cost you in the future. Does it cost more time than the 30 seconds to 1-minute discomfort? If yes, you already know what the wise answer is. You wouldn’t promise 20 dollars in the future to get 1 dollar now, wouldn’t you?
To make the time you would be gaining by saying no more real, attempt an accurate estimate of how much time saying yes would cost you. Then try to picture what you could accomplish or enjoy within that time if you spent it on things you believe in. What could you achieve if you would spend it on your most important projects? How could you use this time more pleasantly if you spend it on the kind of leisure that really relaxes or engages you?
Focusing on this, the little displeasure of saying no at the moment will seem smaller.
If saying no to big things seems hard, use the mission to start practising with small things, building up your skill and courage. This mission is all about practising saying no and staying true to spending your time on the things that count.