The One Word all Millennials Should Say
Dear Millennial: say hello to “No,” en espanol, “No,” “No, not right now” or essentially any variation of the word that communicates to others “I’m not doing that right now or at all.” Make friends with this word because this word will guide you through some of your greatest personal achievements, optimize your self satisfaction, and assist you with more efficacious behavior, even more so than the word “Yes.”
I am, of course, not advocating for you to say “No” without cause, but rather more strategically. It is common to think as we burgeon through our careers, school, or any transition in our lives that we should be saying yes every turn of the way without scrutiny because “We are learning and should absorb as much as possible” or because “how else will we know exactly what we want to do if we don’t try things out.” Although this notion can be true in some circumstances, it ignores one key phenomenon that we will continue to see throughout our lives if we say yes too often: not every opportunity is worth your time, money or happiness.
Why is Yes so Attractive?
Well if the above statement is true, how is it that we can so easily fall into the pitfall of saying “Yes?” Saying yes to every opportunity, even those that we wouldn’t ideally choose for ourselves is easy and convenient. What would we have to confront if we didn’t say “Yes?” Spoiler alert, whatever we are trying to avoid by saying “Yes” in the first place. Whether it’s conflict, worrying about what others may think of you, wanting others to like you, or truly feeling like you can’t say “No,” ask yourself if it’s really convenient or if you merely just shifting who it is convenient for.
Sometimes things worth living for aren’t easy, and we have to confront uncomfortable barriers in order to get where we need to be and deserve to be.
No as a privilege
Let me be clear though, saying No can be a privilege. Not everyone is afforded the opportunity to use the word in every circumstance. This is where strategy is important. Each person reading should decide what this means in their context. I will simply walk through how saying “No” can actually be an optimal approach with the hope empowering you to say No in situation you previously believed you could not.
By saying “Yes” to things you want to say “No” to, you are quite literally communicating the opposite response to another person. A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking others will be able to read their minds or emotions. 9 out 10 this won’t happen. What happen instead is that you are misunderstood. What happens when you do that? You teach someone that you are okay with doing things you are not and reinforce behaviors you don’t like. I think the problem with this is self explanatory.
The role that “No” plays in your happiness isn’t exactly groundbreaking. Saying “No” to things we don’t want to do allows time for things we do want to do. Yes, it is really that simple. This means you can allot more time to invest in the relationships you care about and work on your personal goals and achievements. However, simple isn’t easy. This means getting comfortable saying “No” to things that you truly don’t want to do and taking accountability for your feeling. What does that mean? You will be forced to take your feelings more seriously. Telling someone you don’t want to do something allows you to be honest with yourself and the other person. It also teaches others to places a value on your time, that they may not have otherwise. Remember, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”(1) We don’t want to dedicate our days and ultimately our lives to things that we don’t want to do. #Reclaimyourtime!
“No” can be empowering and self fulfilling. It does not make you an entitled millennial, it give you more control over the decisions in your life, even those you may not have known you had. The true work begins from here, so go say “No” to things that are not important.