Say “No” 1,000 Times

Tokyo, 2016
Tokyo, 2016

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs

Life is short— why do we keep saying “yes” to “opportunities” we don’t really want?

Do we just want to please others? Are we afraid of missing out? Do we have FOMO (fear of missing out)?

“Yes” is easy

Tokyo, 2016
Tokyo, 2016

Life is short. Every time you say “yes” to someone — that is one fewer thing that you can do.

Your time, attention, and energy are limited. You only start with a certain amount every single day. Why waste that on saying “yes” to things you aren’t 100% committed to?

I wrote this article for myself

Personally, I am horrible at saying “no.” Often, I let others dictate my schedule, my decisions, and my life.

Part of this is because I am a people pleaser. I want to make everyone else happy. I hate disappointing others.

But the big problem is when I value others over myself — I end up being miserable. Then my misery infects those around me. And that creates a negative feedback loop that harms everybody.

Whose in control?

Tokyo, 2016
Tokyo, 2016

You should dictate your life according to your own terms. Don’t let anyone else run your life.

Practice saying “no” more often. I feel that we are best defined not by what we decide to do, but by what we decide not to do.

For example, your ethics are dictated by what you decide not to do (regardless of how much money someone might offer you).

Your photography style is dictated by the photos you decide not to shoot, and photos you decide not to upload.

Nobody knows what makes them happy in life. But we know what makes us miserable. So perhaps the secret to happiness is just saying “no” to things that make us miserable.

Life is about saying “no”

If you want to live a truly fulfilling life, try to make “no” a default response. For myself, I am trying to experiment with this myself. The rule of thumb is that it is either a “hell fucking yes” or a “no.”

How to say no?

I don’t believe in just saying “no” to someone’s face. Rather, an easier way to say “no” is to thank someone for their offer, but tell them unfortunately you cannot.

You don’t need to give people a reason. Just thank them for their offer, time, and thoughtfulness. But tell them you will pass on their offer.

The quicker you refuse people, the less disappointed people are. And fewer expectations are built up.

Experiment saying “no”

Tokyo, 2016
Tokyo, 2016

For a week, learn how to say “no” to things you aren’t truly passionate about. See how much extra free time you will actually have to do what you are passionate about.

Don’t ever let anybody else dictate your life. You need to control the steering wheel of your ship of life, and you need to take your ship the direction you want to take it.

Stay true to yourself,
Eric

Scroll to Top