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How to Say No, Better

Another James Clear pick today.

How do you make it easier on yourself to say no?
To stick to that diet?
To stop goofing off and buckle down and study or work?

Because,

The ability to overcome temptation and effectively say no is critical not only to your physical health, but also to maintaining a sense of well–being and control in your mental health.

We do this, by assertion rather than denying ourselves day in and day out.
Not that I can’t do this. Just that I don’t. I am a person who eats good food. So I don’t eat junk food.
I am a person who wants to be a programmer. So I don’t browse the web aimlessly all day.
I am a person who wants his mind in his control all the time. So I don’t drink.

When you decide ‘who’ you want to be, it becomes easier to decide, ‘what’ you don’t want to do.

Here’s an anecdote, James shares,

Group 1 was told that anytime they felt tempted to lapse on their goals they should “just say no.” This group was the control group because they were given no specific strategy.

Group 2 was told that anytime they felt tempted to lapse on their goals, they should implement the “can't” strategy. For example, “I can't miss my workout today.”

Group 3 was told that anytime they felt tempted to lapse on their goals, they should implement the “don't” strategy. For example, “I don't miss workouts.”

For the next 10 days, each woman received an email asking to report her progress. They were specifically told, “During the 10–day window you will receive emails to remind you to use the strategy and to report instances in which it worked or did not work. If the strategy is not working for you, just drop us a line and say so and you can stop responding to the emails.”

Here's what the results looked like 10 days later…

  • Group 1 (the “just say no” group) had 3 out of 10 members who persisted with their goals for the entire 10 days.
  • Group 2 (the “can't” group) had 1 out of 10 members who persisted with her goal for the entire 10 days.
  • Group 3 (the “don't” group) had an incredible 8 out of 10 members who persisted with their goals for the entire 10 days.

The words that you use not only help you to make better choices on an individual basis, but also make it easier to stay on track with your long–term goals.

So, say, I don’t, and you’ll say no more effectively :)

Why does this work better than I can’t?
How do I apply this to my life?
Read James’ article to find out.

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