You started to write this post about how saying “no” is hard, and you came up with some simple “hacks” to help. You thought you were pretty clever. It was going to be great, wasn’t it? Unfortunately, iCloud shit the bed, and you lost a couple hundred words.

You got burned and you changed your apps and your work flow and you started to write those words again. You hit a roadblock, so you saved the draft and decided to come back to it later. You’ve opened that document a few times since then, but something just doesn’t feel right about it. You’re not sure where to take it. Why? Why can’t you finish this essay?

Because its a huge pile of bullshit.

Because saying “no” isn’t really hard at all. In fact, its pretty much the simplest fucking thing that you can do. It’s one of the first things everyone learns to say. When you choose to say “no” by default, when you do it over and over, it becomes even easier. No, I can’t commit to that deadline. No, I don’t need to change my task manager. No, I don’t eat dessert. No, I’m not drinking alcohol on weekdays.

Problem is, somewhere along the way, you forgot how.

You say yes to projects you don’t have time to do. You say yes to re-evaluating your workflows instead of doing the work. You say yes to eating junk food and sitting on the couch watching TV.

Years ago you got really good at saying no. It helped you lose 70 lbs. But time has passed, and you’ve got two kids and a sedentary job and lifestyle, so you’ve gained most of that weight back. You’re also busier and more stressed than you’ve ever been.

So when you read that unfinished essay, you realize you’re lying to yourself, and by publishing it you’d just be lying to everyone else. And that’s when you decide to stop.

Saying “no” isn’t hard, and the sooner you admit this to yourself, the sooner you can get on with it and do some goddamn work.

Lying to yourself | January 23, 2013 by James. Looking for more? Check the archive or follow the feed. Want to say hello? Send me an email. Or a beer.