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DCE Magazine

Learn How to Focus by Saying No

CareerZOT Talk by Kathy Seaton

Fall 2018

“I'm on it.” “Sure, I'll have it done by the end of the day.” “Absolutely, I'm happy to take that on for you.”

Our default setting is to reply “yes” to each and every request that comes across our desks. But should we say “yes” when we really mean “no?” It's a fatal trap that we fall prey to. We're the yes men—and we're undeniably the sucker for punishment. Everyone comes to us knowing that we will be agreeable because we don't want to let them down.

And it sets the precedent that we will perform, at all costs. There seems to be some self-satisfaction that we can “pull it all off.” If we don't learn to say no, we will never reach our goals or full potential. Finding focus is what we need to do to avoid distraction and a loss of direction. We need to say yes to ourselves, not someone else, to realize the win-win proposition for ourselves. It takes work to execute focus. But despite the investment required, it's worth it to experience professional and personal growth. So, let's give the “no-way man” a try and move forward with a few ideas in mind.

  1. Kathy SeatonKnow your priorities and limits. Efficiency, productivity, and creativity suffer when you have too much on your plate.

  2. Consider the emotion reaction we have to saying yes. We're here to please and we're optimists by nature because we're the “doers.” However, to make a change we need to avoid our immediate emotional reaction and use our logical mind to think before we act.

  3. We need to use our rational minds to stop and evaluate the pros and cons of the situation and how our project load aligns with our goals. And if the load is too heavy, anything that isn't a priority or doesn't move us ahead should be left by the way side.

    The goal isn't to just be good—it's to be better. The only pathway to real success and prosperity is focus.

    Steve Jobs said it well, “Focusing is about saying no.”

Read more at ce.uci.edu/careerzot