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How I Learned To Say NO & Why It Sets You Up For Success

We have all heard it- I mean I know have- A LOT: “high achievers succeed because they prioritize their commitments & stay focused.”

Well FUCK.

This was HARD. No, not hard- painful, for me to really understand.

I am a YES MAN. For 7 years I said YES. And it worked for me. Until it didn’t.

Yes, about a year ago ( I have been blogging 8 years now ), I realized I was burnt out.

Things that I used to LOVE started to feel heavy. I was fatigued. Even irritable. This isn’t my natural personality. But I sat with this heaviness for about a year until I realized it wasn’t working for me. And the reason it wasn’t working for me is because I was saying YES. Yes to everything. YES to dinner parties 3 nights in a row. YES to every single interview. YES to appearances & speeches. YES to business opportunities. YES to acquaintances that I literally had not talked to since kindergarten ( I kid you not, someone reached out for a favor from Mrs. Kent’s kindergarten class- I can’t make this shit up ). YES to every ask, every appointment, everything. YES to every DM, every e-mail, every Slack, every Snapchat message. YES, YES, YES until I was blue in the face, running myself ragged.

Well you know what happened: I cracked.

Like literally. I’m not the biggest crier so it was more like a completely irrational breakdown that most likely was taken out on Michael. One that was not pretty. Think like Madame Medusa in The Rescuers when she looses her mind on her assistant, Snoops ( you’re not a true Disney fan if you don’t know what I’m talking about ). Anyway- ya I lost it.

I think back & try to pinpoint WHY I lost it. I feel like it was because the more I said YES, the more people took advantage of my time.

WAIT- that’s not really me being accountable, now is it?

More like I was allowing them to take advantage of time.

Ok so meltdown went down.

And then something changed.

I started to meditate every morning.

I started to read more.

I started to say YES to things that made me happy.

I started to say NO to things that made me unhappy.

REALLY I crowded out my true NO’s with real YES’s.

…I KNOW RIGHT, IT’S THAT EASY! Sometimes we all make shit harder than it has to be, ya know?

It’s kind of like when you’re losing weight: instead of taking away from your plate you start to simply ADD on healthy foods to crowd the bad foods out ( more fiber, greens, fruits, water to crowd out sugar ! saturated fats ! white carbs ! ).

Ok let’s get into why you should say NO, especially when you’re saying YES too often.

Turning down certain opportunities may be your best bet. Trust me, there’s many pros of saying no. I know first hand. For one, you’re able to concentrate on what matters- the good stuff. Like PRIORITIES. Those things you really should get to on the scroll of your to-do list. Maybe even things like spending quality time with your significant other. Oh, I don’t know- maybe even spending the whole day reading. When I was little I loved to sit on the couch & read for hours. For a while I was “too busy to spend the day reading.” Probably because I was quite literally saying yes to everything & anything. Now the more I say NO, the more time opens up for me to just read. It’s that simple.

No one in the world has time to fulfill every request- it’s not possible.

Tim Ferriss found that during the writing of his latest book, Tribe of Mentors, that most highly successful people say no to 90% of the things that are asked of them. He said they physically don’t have time to take advantage of every opportunity. He also states it’s very possible to be respectful when saying no. Some of his tips: personal acknowledgment (this one is important), speak on how you’re doing too much, talk about your priorities ( writing a book maybe or focusing in on family ), &/or creating a blanket policy for not taking on new meetings or calls.

Point is: if you’re compromising your OWN needs at the expense of everyone else’s, I would recommend elevating your time. Really audit yourself.

Say no to the 90% to focus in on the 10%. The 10% is usually where the magic happens.

Thoughts, comments, experiences? Would love to hear. NO REALLY! I would- or I clearly wouldn’t ask ; ).

Hope you’re all having a very FOCUSED Monday.

Get ready for another podcast episode ( there’s TWO this week ) tonight at midnight, x lauryn

+ READ: how to time batch.

++ READ: 12 lessons I learned from Tim Ferriss. 

SHOP: bodysuit ( colors are sold out, only in black now ) | jeans | lashes | lipstick 


  1. Amen to learning to say a healthy, “No”, Lauryn!! Thank you for your insight and real talk, as always. 🙂

  2. Yes love this article!! Very relatable and sometimes we feel guilty but we need to put ourselves first because Noone will do that for us

  3. I needed to read this Lauryn! I’ve definitely been a YES man my whole life, and I had a breakdown in the middle of my first year of grad school. I’m still learning how to say no though, and this post is a gentle reminder of that. Thank you so much!

  4. Great things when you stop and think “do I really want to do this?” “Will this make me happy?” My life took a 360 when I decided to say no to going out every week for 3 nights in a row. I noticed how much time I wasting. Now I only say yes if it’s a birthday celebration for someone I really care about lol

  5. This is so important! I had a similar experience a few years back when I was in a really high demand work environment working 60-80 hours per week, but the hard part there was that I wasn’t really enjoying the job and it wasn’t “the shit” for me. So while i HAD to say yes to working and taking on new projects at work in order to not get sacked (up or out is a bitch) I didn’t want to say no to the things I actually enjoyed such as going out with my friends or working out. Them I realized that no, I didn’t HAVE to say yes to these things – I could just quit. So I did. Sometimes we are so narrow minded concerning what we “HAVE” to do that we don’t see that this as well is just a choice we make.

    Long rant but key takeaway: thanks for the post, it’s an important reminder!

  6. I’m a huge advocate of saying no. It has helped me stay focused and not put myself in situations that I never wanted to be in. I hope that more women will start saying no and stop trying to please everyone!

  7. This is SO GOOD. It’s hard for me to implement, but I love that thought about the really good 10%. I also love the quote, “If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no.”

  8. Thank you for referencing that movie!! Glad I’m not the only one who loved it! I feel like I’m 2 steps behind you in this post. After having gone through burnout myself in the last year I find myself meditating more, doing things that are good for me mentally and physically and my desire to read is coming back (I’ve been snooping through your book recommendations:))!! Thanks for the great read❤

  9. I love how you said “Say no to the 90% to focus in on the 10%. The 10% is usually where the magic happens”. I am defiantly going to apply that to my life. I need to learn how to say NO, and focus on that 10%!


  10. I hear this often a lot, too. Now though, I think I overdid it with the NO. It’s important to have clear priorities, but there should also be balance.

  11. I actually think this is really good advice! I am so used to saying Yes because I feel that was how I was raised paired with the fact that I never want to miss out on an opportunity. But by staying constantly busy with stuff you aren’t passionate about could make you miss out on more organic opportunities.

  12. Remarkable! Its really awesome article,I have got
    much clear idea on the topic of fromm this article.

  13. absolutely love LOVE LOVE this. I literally just had a major meltdown because I was the queen of YES MAN. Thank you for this Lauryn.

  14. Hi there, just became alert to your blog
    through Google, and found that it’s truly informative.

    I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future.

    Numerous people will be benefited from your writing.

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