just: no

There’s a lot of noise out there. Phone calls. Emails. Texts. Social Media, friends, strangers, clients, would-be-clients, former clients, frenemies, all needing just a little piece of you. Maybe a medium piece, maybe the whole enchilada. How do you prioritize the time you spend filtering the noise from what really matters? My totally favorite filtration method of choice relies on using one very small word as often as possible.

If we were raised by good, God-fearing people, we were raised to be nice. Be kind. Be responsive, congenial, generous, reciprocal. But all of that accommodation can leave us exhausted. Nice is alright, but what if its inconvenient or blows the budget or doesn’t actually get you what you want?

Last year I joined an organization specializing in network marketing for small business owners. I didn’t actually draw a lot of business from the group, but I did learn a LOT about how to be an entrepreneur. What I found especially fascinating was the insistence on specializing. The theory is that by excluding 99.999% of potential clients, you are better able to attract and serve your ideal client, your 1%. The entire learning experience was a case study for saying NO to get to YES.  It seems counterintuitive, but in fact, it works.

2020 is the beginning of a new year and it marks the end of a decade. Gratitude has become a platitude, but the concept is still golden. What are you grateful for from 2019? From the entire last decade? As a writing coach I might suggest a great journaling exercise would be to schedule an hour to journal about all the wins, losses, gains, journeys the past decade has given you, and how it shaped the person you are today. As you say goodbye to 2019, tally up the experiences and people for which you are grateful. Love them or hate them, they made you who you are today. What can you say goodbye and thank you to? Where did you say NO…and where could you have said it more?

As we take a day off and take a collective breath before beginning the last year of a significant decade on this amazing little planet spinning at roughly 1,000 miles per hour through the darkness of space, do you know what is most important to you in 2020? Do you know how to create it, nurture it, protect it? As you journal about what to say YES to this coming year, what will saying YES require you to say NO to? Think about it. Write about it. Review that plan each 90 days and measure your progress.

Personally, I plan to say YES to publishing my next book. Of necessity this means saying NO to procrastination and a whole lotta distraction. By saying YES to this outrageous goal, I’m expecting that opportunities to say NO are going to break all land speed records.  So feel free to check in with me around April Fools Day and ask how that book project is coming along. It may take a few days to get back to you because I’ll be busy with my YES work.

Happy 2020!

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