As we close out 2015, finish up our to-do list for the year, and set our new goals for 2016, it's time to lay some ground rules. Yes, a new year is all about change, goal-setting, and resolutions. But I believe one major resolution should rise to the top of your list. And that is to embrace the power of NO so you can truly knock those other resolutions out of the park.
Because as we reflect on 2015, the majority of us may notice one common theme: We didn't get to spend more time doing the things we love. And the justification behind this boils down to one common factor. We spent too much time, money, and energy saying YES to things we don't really want (consciously and unconsciously). Don't believe me? This video may help.
So, let's make NO the forefront of 2016 so you can do more of what you love with those that you love. Starting with these 13 areas of focus:
1. Discounting your services: Stop it. Stop it right now. In 2016, focus on delivering value and standing your ground on it. You deserve to be paid for your expertise, talent, and skills. The world needs it. And if you continue to discount into 2016, you perpetuate a snowball effect that lasts for years in terms of how potential clients and your audience views your business, your credibility, and your talent. You're worth full price. And your clients will believe it only if you believe it first.
2. Buy-One-Get-One Sales: Here's the deal; BOGOs are crap. It's a sales technique to get you to waste money. Only rarely are they worth it. Most of the time BOGOs lead to unnecessary purchases, more clutter, and money out the door that can better be spent elsewhere. We oftentimes don't even need the first one, let alone the second one. Only buy what you love. And always ask yourself, "Would I pay full price for this?" If not, then you don't really want it.
3. Persuasion techniques from sales people: Savvy sales people come equipped with the best persuasion tactics out there to get you to say yes unconsciously. You don't even know it and soon you're at home wondering how you walked in to buy a $12,000 car and walked out with a lease for a brand new BMW. Self-awareness is key here, but I've put together this handy downloadable guide that walks you through 6 ways you're being tricked into saying yes.
4. People picking your brain: I'm not saying not to help people or be competitive. I'm pro-collaboration and mentorship. But when you make yourself too available, people will and do take advantage of you. Remember all those things you didn't get to do in 2015? It's because you're making other people a priority instead of yourself; this is one of those areas in which you do that. In 2016, the solution is to find something or someone of value you can refer people to when they do want to take you to coffee to pick your brain. Again, your value needs to be cherished if you are ever to make money doing what you do. And you deserve to be paid for your knowledge if that's your sole business purpose. My recommendation is to write a blog post or create a free PDF outlining some helpful tips for your most common "pick-my-brain" questions and have it readily available to send to people so that you can still deliver something of value. Or, have a referral for someone who can better help them.
5. Check-out line purchases: It's not that I don't want you to have that candy bar or the chapstick in aisle three. It's that I want you to get into the habit of not making small concessions throughout your day. If you can practice self-control in the small areas of life like avoiding impulse purchases in the check-out aisle, you're building your willpower muscle for the other (big) areas of your life (like being able to confidently say no when people want to pick your brain).
6. Hanging on to clothes you don't love: This is the image consultant in me, but this area impacts more of your life than you think. Our clothes determine our mood, for better or worse, and also the perceptions others have of us. All too often, we fall prone to collecting wardrobe items that aren't our style, don't quite fit, or were impulse purchases based on a shiny sales tag. You should love every single thing in your closet (seriously). Which oftentimes means a less-is-more approach to your clothes which makes getting ready easier, more versatility to create outfits, and less hassle overall. Make every piece of wardrobe earn its spot into your closet. Need help? Our BKS stylist can help you craft a carefully curated wardrobe.
7. Extracurricular business activities that don't support your long-term goals: First you need to know what your long-term goals are; at the least, what your goals for the year entail in regard to your business. Then you need to stay laser-focused in only on the activities that support those goals. Let the other things fall to the wayside. You won't miss out. You won't disappoint people. Let them go. You don't need to sit on four boards. You don't need to volunteer for three charities. You don't need to speak to a group for free on a topic that's outside your area of expertise. Get laser-focused on curating a schedule with goal-supporting activities - not activities that take away from the important things in life and add no value to your business.
8. Clutter in your environment: I recommend starting with two primary areas: your bedroom and your work area. Get those two areas tidied up immediately and keep them that way, because it's where you spend the most time. And if you don't think the clutter in those areas affects your mood and productivity, you're underestimating the power of physical things to overstimulate your brain.
9. Clients who aren't the right fit: Stop saying yes to clients because you need the money. This is a big one for newer business owners. You are simply creating more stress in your life and providing a (typically) mediocre service/product. Once you start saying no to clients who aren't directly in your zone of genius, you can start saying yes to a higher-valued service that is.
10. Notifications on your smartphone: Are you really going to miss anything if you aren't notified immediately when someone follows you on Twitter, Instagram, or tags you on Facebook? Are those email notifications really worth getting off-track on what you were currently working on to check them? Yes, games are fun, but do you need to know right away when it's your turn on Words With Friends? Eliminate these distractions NOW. You're not getting to do the things you want to do because you've allowed careless distractions to get in the way. You have the power here - time to reclaim it.
11. Responding immediately to emails: If you are the person who always provides an immediate response, you will always be the person people expect to be always on. And they'll take advantage of it (most of the time not out of bad intention or with any ill will - it's simply because they know you'll always respond). Email is for both parties' convenience - not solely for the other person's. We've mistaken new for urgent. And that simply isn't the case. Utilize an auto-responder for busy times throughout your year that notifies people you'll be a little bit slower to respond so you can give yourself some breathing room when you're facing big projects.
12. Taking work home from the office: Remember Parkinson's Law? The adage goes like this: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Meaning, if you give yourself more time, you'll take all the time in the world. With constraints, you'll work in that time period but chances are you'll get the same amount done as if you had double the time to do it. You won't get less done by stopping your work at your office and neglecting to take it home. I can make a bet you'll get MORE done. By setting constraints and boundaries, you'll force yourself to work under a deadline per se. This deadline puts just the right amount of pressure to make you more productive. Tap into those days where you managed to get a 20-page term paper done in 24 hours before finals in college. That's what Parkinson's Law is all about. You can do the same at work if you only self-impose the deadline.
13. Putting yourself last on your to-do list: I mean, come on. Not making yourself a priority is SO 2015. If you don't get the significance of this, you need to hop around on the site some more and soak up all the great knowledge our contributors publish for you on a day-to-day basis. You HAVE to put yourself first on the to-do list or you won't have the time, money, or energy to give to those you love and care about. The biggest role model you can be to your kids, employees, life partner, and friends is to show them what an empowered, healthy and passionate individual looks like. And you can't do that until you put yourself first by practicing the Best Kept Self lifestyle.
These are just 13 areas to say NO to in 2016. I empower you to make your own. But I also know that wanting to say NO and actually saying NO are two very different things. Most of the time we don't say NO because we simply don't know how or feel bad in doing so. That's why I created the 30-day lifestyle cleanse that I call the YES DIET. If you want more accountability to truly expedite this process and get to a place where you're only doing what you love with the people you love, then this program is for you and you can get started right away. Head on over here to take a look.
Shauna is the creator of the YES DIET, public speaker, and founder of Best Kept Self, a community of experts who believe in the power of self-care for the self-employed. For more tips on self-care and mindfulness, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.