Say No to Everything That’s Not Aligned With Your Essential Priorities

Srinivas Rao
Published in
3 min readSep 20, 2016


Photo Credit: <a href=”">Esellee</a> via <a href=”">Compfight</a> <a href=”">cc</a>

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a number of invitations to participate in teleseminars, contribute to websites, and even contribute to other books. At the moment I have three major priorities

  • Working on my second book
  • Doing more paid speaking
  • Growing revenue on the Unmistakable Creative

In most cases, these invitations don’t align with those three goals. After years of saying yes, I’ve had to start saying no to just about everything that comes my way. Jim Bunch, founder of The Ultimate Game of life posed the following question in his interview on the Unmistakable Creative”:

What if you said no to EVERYTHING that’s not aligned with your greater purpose?

Dan Kennedy, who has a somewhat ruthless approach separates his requests as follows:

Is this a person trying to give me money? Or is this a person trying to get me to do something?

Most of us (myself included) find ourselves almost daily saying yes to all sorts of things that are not aligned with our greater purpose.

  • We say yes to pointless distractions
  • We say yes to meetings with no clear outcomes

But when we say start saying no to everything that’s not aligned with our greater purpose and our most essential priorities we start to build momentum.

Mental Energy vs Time

The truth is you might have the time to actually say yes to many of the things that you say no to. But by saying yes to those things you take away mental energy from things that are aligned with your greater purpose. It might take one hour to participate in something, but the opportunity cost of that hour might be an entire day of lost focus on things that matter the most.

Essentialist vs Non-Essentialist

The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes the obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. — Greg Mckeown

You can be either an essentialist or non-essentialist. And in many ways, it’s often the difference between being a professional and an amateur. Essentialists say no to almost everything. Non-essentialists say yes to a lot of things in the hopes that they might lead to something worthwhile.

Hell Yes VS No

Derek Sivers has a policy of “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” When you’re starting out, you might have to say yes more than you say no. But as your progress Hell yes or no is a great filter for work that you’re proud of. It makes it pretty easy to determine what you want to do vs what you don’t.

In choosing guests for Unmistakable Creative, I have said no quite often. Anytime I’ve not stuck to hell yes or no I find myself in a conversation I regret having agreed to, and I even get stuck with interviews that I don’t think we can publish

By saying no, you not only focus all your energy and effort on your most essential priorities. You also create space for things that are actually worth saying yes to.

Before You Go…

If doing the best work of your life is important to you, you’ll love my free guide: “Optimizing Productivity & Creativity.

The tactics I’ve packed into this guide allowed me to write over 1 million words in the last 2 years. What could it do for your life’s work? Don’t miss it.

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Srinivas Rao

Candidate Conversations with Insanely Interesting People: Listen to the @Unmistakable Creative podcast in iTunes