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41 Things You Should Say “No” to for a Happier 2020

Danny Forest
Dec 21, 2018 · 6 min read

A lot of people think happiness is about saying “yes” to the right stuff. Well, that’s one side of a coin. There are many things we say “yes” to that we really should be saying “no” to.

For a happier 2020, try saying “no” to the following things:


You’re almost always better than you think you are.

“I’d rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocracy” —

Stop thinking, start doing.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” — Marcus Aurelius

Be positive. Don’t seek loathing, seek improvement.

“Just remember; someone loves everything you hate about yourself” — Frank Ocean

Be a giver. Be happier.

“Selfish people end up having only their self.” —

Don’t waste time on perfection. Great is good enough.

“Perfection is the enemy of progress.” — Winston Churchill

Ask why three times and you’ll know the real reason.

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses” — George Washington Carver

Spend time on self-improvement over fascination over competitors.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Think deeper.

“Impulsiveness is the enemy of deep thinking” —

Health & Sleep

The more you eat healthy, the tastier the food gets.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” —

Your brain needs all the good nutrients it can get to function optimally. Eat better, not less.

“Skipping meal -> Starvation -> Over-eating -> Weight Gain.”

The grocery store is 15 minutes walk away? Walk to it!

“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” — Thomas Jefferson

Be so focused on achieving your goals and set tight deadlines and you won’t ever think about snoozing anymore!

“You Snooze, You Lose” — smart people

Enjoy a party, but don’t forget your goals, and resting of course!

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” — Oscar Wilde

Don’t get in the way of a good sleep.

“Sleep is the best meditation” — Dalai Lama


Waste as little time as possible on non-productive activities.

“If you have to commute, read or listen to a book, or a podcast.”

When comes time to be productive. Shut any distractions down.

“You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things” —

Bad friend? Block. Netflix? Block. Video Games? Block. Unblock when comes time to unwind.

“I hate watching an episode a week, I’m more of a season a day kinda person.” —

Seriously. You don’t have to finish everything you start! The author won’t know. Stop reading shit things, there’s too much great stuff out there!

“Life is too short to read a bad book.” — James Joyce

Plan things. Organize priorities. Do the ones that matter.

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker

Planning is great and all, but don’t forget to execute!

“Just do it!” — Nike


Say “yes” to givers. Give yourself.

“Know the difference between those who stay to feed the soil and those who come to grab the fruit.” —

Uninstall the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps from your phone. BAM! I gave you back an hour of your day!

“Never before has a generation so diligently recorded themselves accomplishing so little.” —

Always be honest. Don’t be a hater.

“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” — unknown

Gossiping is poisonous. Avoid people who spread it.

“Who gossips to you will gossip of you” — Turkish Proverb

If someone doesn’t have time for you, don’t find time for them. Relationships are mutual.

“Naysayers have little power over us — unless we give it to them.” — Arianna Huffington

Work-Life Balance

Don’t get stuck in a non-productive routine. You can change things around.

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” — Warren Buffett

These tend to last too long and have no focus. No sense of direction. Avoid them.

“Disorganization can scarcely fail to result in efficiency.” — Dwight Eisenhower

Bring people back on track or leave. Seems rude, but in the long run, people will thank you for it.

“Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” — Miles Davis

To hell with the good money. If a client is not good to you, focus your energy on the good clients.

“It is better to starve than get a bad client.” — Massimo Vignelli

Say “yes” to great.

“Good is the enemy of great” — Jim Collins

Have a clean workspace, both physically, mentally and on your computer.

“Clutter is anything that doesn’t support your better self.” — Eleanor Brown

As much as possible set blocks of times to answer messages.

“Emails get reaction. Phone calls start conversations.” — Simon Sinek

Give your full attention to your work, it won’t go unnoticed.

“You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one.” — Tom Kite

Give you full attention to your family, it won’t go unnoticed.

“When you work, work. When you play, play. Don’t mix the two.” — Jim Rohn

Find your superpower, delegate the stuff that’s outside of it.

“As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you must also understand the art of delegation.” — Richard Branson

Communication is key. Work things out or walk away.

“I can’t control your behavior; nor do I want that burden… but I will not apologize for refusing to be disrespected, to be lied to, or to be mistreated. I have standards; step up or step out.” — Steve Maraboli


Make your environment uncomfortable so you can focus on the things that matter.

“I’ve made it to the couch. There’s no stopping me now!” —

Coffee machine? A traffic light when there are other options? A file upload? Just do something else!

“You can’t recycle wasted time.”

Question the things you do. Better yet, question it before you start it.

“If it’s not a Hell Yeah!, it’s a no” — Derek Sivers

Don’t waste time comparing things that don’t compare. They’re quantified or qualified using a different set of attributes, it’s not the same thing!

“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself.” — Bill Gates

Top productive people set their phones on Airplane mode for most of the day.For me, it has become a brick of sorts.

“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.” — Steven Spielberg


Feel like saying “no” now?

You can start right away! Reading this article on your cellphone? Just toss it!

Learning to say “no” is a skill. Practice it. Master it. Say “no” to the right things in 2020 and you’ll be happier for it.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, sharing and following! :)

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Danny Forest

Written by

Status quo’s worst nightmare | Obsessive learner | Productivity beast | Father of a little Viking. Get in touch:

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +670K people. Follow to join our community.

Danny Forest

Written by

Status quo’s worst nightmare | Obsessive learner | Productivity beast | Father of a little Viking. Get in touch:

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +670K people. Follow to join our community.

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