Saying yes feels good in the moment. Saying no is difficult, but learning how to do it is liberating in the long run.
The problem with saying yes too many times, is that we are spread too thin. The world is a noisy place, with the illusion of promise lurking around every corner. Saying yes to everything is the surest way to actually achieve nothing other than constantly fight fires. This happens when we commit too too many projects at work, or try to meet too many people during the weekends.
Learning to say no is an essential skill in a world where there is too much going on. To pursue a handful of important things with the necessary commitment, we need to say no a lot. Learning to say no is as important as exercising regularly. It feels just as difficult to do in the short term, but is feels just as refreshing afterwards.
The moment a person asks us for something, there is tension in the air. The easiest way to break this tension is to say yes to what they ask us. It certainly feels good as soon as we have said yes, because the other person is happy. We get the same kick out of pleasing other people that we do from eating a bar of chocolate or a slice of cake.
When we say no, in that instant, the person who has asked us for something is disappointed. In that moment, we feel uncomfortable. However, our future selves will thank us later. Moreover, we build a reputation for focusing on whatever is essential. That bit of disappointment turns into respect in the long term – the respect we all share for people who are clear about what they want.
Suggested reading: No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no.”