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

Srinivas Rao
Dec 31, 2017 · 4 min read

Over last several months, I received a number of invitations to participate in teleseminars, contribute to websites, and even contribute to other books. At the moment I have about 4 major priorities

  1. Grow our email list at Unmistakable Creative
  2. Strategy and Marketing for the launch of my 2nd book
  3. Doing more paid
  4. Growing revenue on the Unmistakable Creative

In most cases, these invitations don’t align with my essential priorities. After years of saying yes, I’ve made it a point to start saying no more often. 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
  • We say yes to participating in activities that aren’t aligned with our goals

Every time we say yes to what we want to say no to, we increase the likelihood of not , waste our time, squander our attention, and get nothing done. 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.

1. 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. Your state of mind is one of your post priceless assets. Don’t squander it on things that don’t truly matter to you.

2. 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. It’s often . 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. Essentialist are deliberate about their environments and design their days to design their lives. Because they , managing time tends to take care of itself.

3. 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 you 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

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4. Efficiency VS Effectiveness

In the desire to become more productive, it’s tempting to confuse effectiveness with efficiency. We sacrifice quality for quantity. Half the battle in learning to prioritize quality over quantity is learning to say no to everything that’s not aligned with your essential priorities. I think we’d be wise to apply Mark Manson’s Fuck Yes or No Filter not just to the people we date, but the jobs we take, and the creative work we do. When you say yes to a thousand small things, you end up saying not to the handful of things that really matters.
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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.


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Srinivas Rao

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The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org