How to say NO to almost everything (and why it matters)

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Every single day we’re bombarded with external stimuli. A notification from your phone, an email, your kids needing your attention, work projects and deadlines, colleagues and meetings, clients knocking on your door, a friend wanting a chat or simply life getting in the way.

But every single day we’re also being bombarded by internal distraction. Thoughts. 60,000 thoughts or so to be precise. Thoughts about the fact that we are tired, thoughts about the weather, thoughts about our bodies and our weight, thoughts about our partners or the fact that we are single, thoughts about having money or the lack of it. We are consumed by thoughts that paint a picture of the world as frightening, dangerous, threatening and sad or maybe thoughts that it’s all unicorns and pink balloons.

At the same time, we’re trying to get shit done. We have dreams and goals we want to reach. We’re hustling, working, pushing and fighting to get to the finish line.

But these distractions though. Ugh.

In other words, good luck with accomplishing any kind of goal. We’re up against a sea of distractions.

Here’s where saying “NO thanks, not now” is a game changer. Here’s where saying ”no gracias” will radically transform how you do life. The “not now” is the heart of Mindfulness and it’s the secret to getting things done. Having the ability, having the skill to say no to distractions, is what will ultimately change your life.

If you’re a high achiever it means simply that you set your mind to accomplish something and you actually achieve your goal. Either you’re an achiever or you’re not. There’s no grey zone in here. You either do or you don’t. As Yoda said, there’s no try. Let me repeat that.

You’re either an achiever or you’re not.

So the million dollar question is then, “How do I achieve what I set out to do?”. The answer is NO. Mastering the art of saying “No, not now”.

Let’s back up a bit here though. We’re not talking about external circumstances or external stimuli and the ability to say no to them. We’re not talking about time management or blocking off your calendar with tasks. We’re not talking about planning your time and having a goal-setting strategy. On the contrary. I want to point you towards an inner approach, the inside out way of being an achiever. The art of saying no to unhelpful thoughts (that, by the way, are probably 99,999999999% of your habitual old thoughts). Here’s where it gets interesting.

Where your attention goes, your energy flows.

Every time you say “NO, not helpful” to a thought, an impulse, an urge to procrastinate, or an idea that takes your focus away from your big goal you are one step closer to achieving it. This is pretty profound and this is key, so pay attention here (pun intended). Every time you say ”No” to thoughts that distract you, you’re winning. You’re making progress and you’re moving one step closer to your goal. The lack of skill in the inner badassery department is what distinguishes achievers from non-achievers. This is the one thing. It’s not a strategy. It’s not a fancy planning tool or strategy. It’s not tactics. It’s not their outer circumstances and resources. It’s their mind. It’s their ability to say “NO, not now”.

I can’t stress this enough. Being a high achiever is not about working harder. It’s not about having a need to set goals and being attached to the outcome. It’s simply mindset and the ability hold the attention focused on the vision and saying no to everything else. Saying no to every thought that will try to get in the way. Thoughts will get in the way. That’s what thoughts do.

Thoughts are the only distraction. Your own thinking is the problem.

I believe this is the biggest mistake people make. Lacking the insight that the only thing that ever gets in the way is their own thinking. They get in their own way. They’re not understanding that their focused attention is their biggest asset when it comes to achieving goals. People look for plans, strategies and tasks to get to their goals but they lack the most important part.

Mindset. The right frame of mind that will allow them to achieve even the most impossible goal and dream.

It always comes down to mindset.

If you’re not achieving. It’s your mindset. If you’re not hitting your goals…it’s your thinking. Look within, not without.

Having the ability to say no to unhelpful and distracting thoughts should be your number one priority. It’s what will take you beyond your wildest dreams and set you up for achieving the impossible.