My Year of Saying No: The Power in Priorities

Fuck positivity. I’m positive it sucks.

Shonda Rhimes wrote a memoir called Year of Yes, about getting out of your comfort zone, trying new things, and letting go of fear.  Both the book and premise are great. (Shonda is an awesome Boss Girl, so, duh.)

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not throwing shade at enthusiasm, passion, or perseverance. But I want to call bullshit on pursuing pleasure, fame, and fortune through a sappy soup of affirmations, entitlement and this vacuous Kardashian Kan-do that contemporary culture shoves down our throats.

This stew of selfie-driven success makes a lot of people assume that they are just a few lip injections and an Instagram account away from world domination. But there’s more to being extraordinary, being a brand or an entrepreneur than making a vision board and sporting a “Crushing It” t-shirt.

I want to call bullshit on pursuing pleasure, fame, and fortune through a sappy soup of affirmations, entitlement and this vacuous Kardashian Kan-do that contemporary culture shoves down our throats.

I’m not pissing on everyone’s dreams. (Well, maybe some of your dreams. Come on, some dreams are lame.) I’m just saying that there’s just one way to make dreams morph into reality, and that’s by:

  • Acquiring knowledge and skills;
  • Working hard – day in, day out;
  • Devising strategies;
  • Defining goals; and
  • Clarifying priorities.

I want to help you not make the mistakes I’ve made, so let’s talk about that last bullet point. Maybe you’re like me: knowledge, skills, fearlessly going for it – check, check, and check.

But I was too-often my own worst enemy not because I was afraid to say yes but because I was afraid to say no.

But there’s more to being extraordinary, being a brand or an entrepreneur than making a vision board and sporting a “Crushing It” t-shirt.

I always did my best but I didn’t always pick my best.  Like many females, I believed my primary value was in fitting that shoe. I was constantly buffeted about by others’ perceptions of me; every little word and action could quickly cut me to the quick.  It didn’t matter if I respected or even liked them, but everyone had to approve of me, like me, never ever be mad at me. I lowered my standards, didn’t push too hard, and I never let my resting bitch face fly.  I put up with being put down, and I made being nice more important than doing me.  I said yes when I should have said no.

No isn’t necessarily negative. We need to reframe NO so we see it as a powerful positive choice. NO is standing up for your priorities.  NO is a commitment to who you are and what you value. NO helps you exercise discipline, hoen your focus, and convey your values. NO isn’t negative – it’s your way of positively affirming and pursuing what really matters to you.

Saying NO is an important part of embracing your voice and your goals.

”No, I can’t come this weekend.”

“No, I’m not interested in going.”

“No, I’m not gong to take that job.”

“No, I can’t stay, I have to get up early to run.”

“No, I need more money.”

“No, I don’t want to change the subject.”

“No, I don’t want to see that movie.”

“No, I don’t like it.”

“No, I don’t want to go out with you.”

“No, I don’t want dessert.”

“No, I don’t approve.”

“No, I won’t stand for this.”

I recently read a wonderful book by Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I loved it. Don’t let the title fool you. Mark isn’t telling us we shouldn’t care about anything. He’s saying we should more consciously and deliberately choose those things on which we choose to spend our emotional, physical — and even spiritual –energy.   The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is Manson’s answer to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that permeates our culture.

consciously and deliberately choose those things on which we choose to spend our emotional, physical — and even spiritual –energy.

As Mark puts it, “This book will help you think a little bit more clearly about what you’re choosing to find important in life and what you’re choosing to find unimportant.”  Manson suggests picking a few big things that reflect who you want to be and become: “What I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively—how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values.”

Life is too short to react so passionately about every little thing. We have a limited emotional capacity, and we often squander it on reactions to mean-spirited people or unfortunate events, completely forgetting that, although we can’t control the world around us, we can control ourselves.

While grandiose dreams can be inspiring, grandiose expectations are just narcissistic bullshit. Success, entrepreneurship, and successful relationships all demand hard work and commitment. Behind “overnight successes” and the fame and glory so many seek is a lot of grinding. Daily, minute acts of often mind-numbingly dull grind and uncomfortable, boring shit.

But you know what, that’s good news. You can do that shit!

YOU have the power decide what to give a fuck about, and what not to give a fuck about.  Which means you have the power to shape your moods, your actions, and your destiny.

You know the butterfly effect – about how a butterfly flapping her wings might start a chain reaction that causes a hurricane half across the world? Your priorities and choices all have consequences – in your life and the lives of others.  That’s not a curse; it’s a blessing. YOU have the power decide what to give a fuck about, and what not to give a fuck about.  Which means you have the power to shape your moods, your actions, and your destiny.

Starting today, join me in my year of saying NO. You just might find that saying NO will translate into saying yes to life and best of all, yourself.

Dig this? Check out

What I’d Tell My 21-year-old Self

Sorry Not Sorry: Exude More Confidence By Apologizing Less

How to Say No Without Being Rude or Hurting Your Image

Dixie Laite

DAMETOWN.COM
I'm Dixie Laite -- a writer, speaker, and branding consultant in New York City. For over 40 years I've been a bullshit-slaying, classic movies-obsessing, animal-loving dame. For over 40 years I have been working on figuring out how to be a woman. Some of it I nailed, a lot of it I'm still trying to get a handle on. Let's figure this shit out together!

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