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Saying No in 2023

January 3, 2023

We’ve come through the holidays, and we are fully in the swing of planning the year.

I feel like my list is already getting long:

We’re planning the things we want to do as a family this year as we prepare to welcome another child.
I am planning things for our business, focusing on goals, and growing our team.
I have a new book coming out in March and am making plans for its release.
I’m planning what my role at church will look like this year.

Each of these things are good things. They are all things I want to do. However, I can’t do everything I want to do.  

I don’t know about you, but I believe many of us struggle with the temptation to add too many things to our plates. Our default answer to more activities is “Yes.” 

So here we are, three days into 2023, and here’s my goal: Find things to say no to. (It’s tough to articulate how incredibly difficult this is for me.)

We must remind ourselves:

Saying no to good things allows us to say yes to the best things.

And I’ll never have the courage to say no if I haven’t identified my priorities ahead of time. When two things come into conflict, I need a clear matrix of when to say yes and when to say no.

For example, when a work commitment conflicts with a family activity, what will you choose?

When you’re approached by a potential client to take on a project that doesn’t align with your values, how will you respond?

If you’re offered a higher paying job that would help your family but doesn’t align with your strengths, what will you decide? 

I’m not going to oversimplify. The answers to these questions may not always be black and white. Maybe it’s a short, busy season at work, and you have to miss your child’s ball game to prioritize completing the most important project of the year. 

Deciding when to say no may often come down to open discussions with the people who know you best. But make no mistake, you will be forced to choose. And if you don’t decide when you will say “no” by design, you will end up saying “no” by default because you lack the margin to say yes. 

In my book The Lens, I explain that “Purpose tells us when to say yes. Priority reveals when to say no.” If things align with your purpose, they should get added to your list. However, priority is where they should land on your list. Because your time is limited, you may find yourself saying no to something valuable so you can say yes to something more valuable.

This year, lots of things could be added to my plate, but 362 days from now, if I am successful and intentional this year, it’s because I have learned what to say no to.


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