“How many have laid waste to your life when you weren’t aware of what you were losing, how much was wasted in pointless grief, foolish joy, greedy desire and social amusements – how little of your own was left to you?”

Seneca, On The Battle of Life

As we start back in work after the Christmas break, full of good intentions and resolutions, perhaps one thing more than anything else stands in the way of us achieving our goals…us. Or more pointedly, our inability to say no to the ‘stuff’ that gets in the way.

Invitations, requests for help, favours, even some obligations and lots of stuff that ‘everyone else is doing’ mount up to choke our daily lives. This leads to mounting stress and missed goals.

Stress can be boiled down to two underlying psychological factors – the need for approval and the need to be in control. Trying to satisfy these two ‘needs’ drains your energy. Be disliked sometimes, be less than perfect in the eyes of others. It’s your life. Realising this allows the high achievers to stay focussed on what is important to them. On their goals. Not someone else’s.

It’s important to note that approval is very different from respect. I’m certain you know somebody you don’t like very much but your respect them for something. Someone may not like you for saying no to them but they may well respect you for it. Respect often comes at the expense of approval.

Doing this one thing will feel uncomfortable unless you are a socio-path, in which case you are unlikely to be still reading this. However, the more you do it the easier it becomes, the more respect you will get. Most importantly, the more you say no to the stuff that doesn’t matter to you to the more you can say yes to the stuff that does matter to you.

Start small and trying saying no to one thing that’s not important you today.

Best wishes for a high-achieving and reduced stress 2017.