50 Rules of Success: Learn When to Say ‘Yes’ and When to Say ‘No’

What follows is the continuation of success habits that will become part of a book I’m writing, “50 Rules of Success”.

Everybody starts with the same amount of time.  To accelerate your success, it’s imperative that you become proficient at managing your time in a way that gets you your best results.  As you become more successful, you’ll likely find a greater number of requests for your time (and money).  You need to have a plan for when to say yes and when to decline.  Sorting through when to say yes and when to say no is a whole lot easier if you have a set of predetermined goals for all aspects of your life.

In the early part of my career when I was building my business, I made a conscious decision to be a ‘yes-man’…someone who people could count on to say yes to projects and jump on almost any invitation. It might be a social invitation or a request to help with a charity event, speak at an event or work on a professional board.

My first book project came out of a ‘Yes!’ One of my written goals was to write a financial book that would be published by a ‘big, fancy, white-shoe, New York publisher’. At thirty-something I got a call from a writer from Money Magazine. She had called me on numerous occasions for insights for articles she wrote for the magazine. She had just accepted a new position as an editor for a publisher owned by Simon & Schuster in New York and they had a popular book series called “10 Minute Guide to …(numerous titles). She asked, “Stewart, would you be interested in authoring a book for this series on personal finances for newlyweds? Because it was one of my written goals, without any hesitation, I said, “Yes!” I remember hanging up the phone and breaking out into a cold sweat. “What have I gotten myself into?” I had never done anything like this. In fact, my high school English teacher, Mrs. Reed, would have laughed out loud at the suggestion I would ever become a published author of anything, much less a book. After I gathered myself, I decided that I would do whatever it takes to succeed in this project. I worked very hard and in 1996, I became a first-time author of “10 Minute Guide to Personal Finances for Newlyweds”. As a sidebar to this story, there’s a saying, “Success breeds success” and I have since authored more than half a dozen books and have been a financial columnist for more than twenty years…all because I said ‘yes’ to that first request.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be caught off guard when someone asks for your help. Have a pre-determined response. Sometimes I know immediately that the request is something that does not interest me (move me towards one of my goals). Other times, I’m less certain and request a couple of days to consider the request. Avoid allowing yourself to be pressured into saying yes when you want to say no. Your time is precious and once given, it cannot be retrieved.

Say YES to… as many things as you have time for that create a possible opportunity for you.

Say NO to… requests that clearly do not move you towards one of your goals. You do have written goals, right?