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    Learn to say no by creating a "stop doing" list

    Who I am
    Louise Hay

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    The world has become an extremely competitive place, overloaded with external stresses, and more and more concentration is required to be able to remain focused on completing daily tasks and pursuing medium to long-term goals. Thanks to the innovation and advancement of communications technology, we have become easily accessible to an ever-growing plurality of people. In fact, perfect strangers can reach us in many ways: calls, faxes, emails, traditional mail. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with requests and continuous contacts, and it seems that everyone wants a piece of us. This pushes us to overload ourselves with commitments and projects (both personal and work), as we unconsciously want to impress others, be ahead of us or simply keep up with others' expectations. In the meantime, however, we neglect our priorities.

    To be successful in life and achieve your goals, creating the lifestyle you want, you will have to get good at saying no to all the people and distractions that would otherwise devour you. In fact, successful people know how to say no without feeling guilty.

    A 'no' said with the greatest conviction is better and more valuable than a 'yes' spoken only to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.

    Mahatma Gandhi

    If you intend to increase your results, increase your income or have more time to devote to the important things in life, you will have to eliminate those tasks, requests, and other "time thieves" that do not produce a profitable result for your personal growth.

    You will have to structure and organize your commitments in order to focus time, energy and resources only on projects, opportunities and people who they offer a valuable reward in exchange for your efforts and sacrifices. In short, you will have to establish clear and well-defined boundaries between what you will do and what you will not do.

    My advice is to create a "stop doing" list. The paradoxical thing is that maybe we are also busy and active, but undisciplined and not focused at all. We move, but not always in the right direction. By creating a "stop doing" list (as well as a to-do list), instead, you introduce more discipline and focus into your life. Then start creating your "stop doing" list as soon as possible. Then transform the things you put on the list into actual "policies of conduct". People, in fact, interpret a policy as a border, and they will respect you more because they will know what you will not do.

    Sometimes we find it difficult to say no. As a child, answering "no" often resulted in punishment. Later in everyone's life perhaps the "no" was also synonymous with a poor evaluation or the impossibility of progressing on the social ladder. Nevertheless successful individuals say no all the time (to projects, deadlines, questionable priorities, crises of others). It is as if they considered the decision to say no to be as acceptable as the decision to say yes. For them, the important thing is never to become victims or slaves of the lack of organization or deadlines of others.

    Try to understand that saying no is not something that goes against others, but simply something you do for yourself. Few people will be angry with you because you have made a bigger commitment (taking care of your main projects, continuing to do what you were doing, dedicating time to your family, etc.). They will actually esteem you for your clarity and strength.

    So the next time you have to decide whether to give an affirmative or negative answer, think about it: in the space between a “yes” and a “no” there could be all your success.

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