To Achieve Your Goals You Need To Learn To Say ‘No’

Saying no to opportunity

Saying no to the little things is relatively easy, if you know why you’re doing it. Meeting requests, coffee dates and birthday parties can all be declined with no repercussions and nothing will important will be missed. It just comes down to consistency and focusing on your goals. I’ve always been good at this but have just found out how hard it is to turn down a big opportunity.

Learning To Say No

Having the ability to say no is not only a great skill to have but it’s essential to reaching your goals

Everything wants to take all of your time.

If you were to say yes to every opportunity and request that popped up, you would never have anytime to work on your own goals. I say that like there’s not people who do exactly that, but reality is there’s more than you think. In fact, there’s a high chance you’re one of them.


I’ve always found it easy to say no to the little things, like; friends parties, coffee dates, phone calls, or anything on a day-to-day basis but never actually had a set way of judging whether something gets rejected or not. Which in some cases meant I was missing out on opportunities because I was basing my decision on emotions, not strategically.

So I decided to create a very simple process that I use every time I’m requested to be apart of something.

This diagram shows my process.

Learning To Say 'No' With every request received, I go through this process that helps me decide whether to do something or not. It doesn’t take long. Sometimes only a couple of seconds and it will happen subconsciously. Regardless, this is the process.


If you don’t answer yes to any of the 4 questions, it should be ignored. In saying that, even if you do answer yes to the questions you’re still within your rights to reject whatever it is you’re considering. These are just a base line for making a decision.

Does it get you closer to your goals?

This is by far the most important question to ask yourself when put in a situation where you may need to say no. I used to have a mindset that no matter what the request was, if it didn’t get me closer to my goals, it was an automatic no. Now that i’ve learnt more, I know it’s not the only factor that should be considered but is still the most important.

Does it help someone else reach their goals?

This is one that I’ve only recently started to include. I found out a person can benefit a lot from lifting up those around them.

I’ll explain in more detail further on but an example for me is turning down an opportunity to be a co-founder of a business, which one of my friends is starting but offering to write 2-3 articles for free. I get to expand my writing skills into a topic I’m not familiar with and he gets content.

I’ll also point out that if not answered correctly, this can be a very dangerous question.

It could go a couple of ways.

You can use it correctly and spend a little time helping those close to you OR it can end up taking all of your time and you fall into that trap of never having time to work on your own goals.

Make sure you’re willing to give up the time it takes to help them out and make sure you’ve set boundaries.

Will you personally gain from it?

This is where you start to look beyond your goals and start considering other aspects of your life.

Health, education, fitness, etc.

For example someone could ask you to join the gym with them.  If you’re not currently doing any exercise you would gain greatly from taking them up on that offer.

Again, you don’t have to do it and you have to be willing to commit but you need to look further then your goals.

Most of the time, if you’re not concentrating on an aspect of your life, it’s probably affecting your overall progress.

Is it a requirement?

Do you need to do it?

Is it a requirement for reaching your goals?

This could be anything from specific courses, phone calls or meetings that you just have to do.

There’s also another aspect to this and that sits under the category of family. Sometimes family things come up that you just have to attend. Birthdays, Christmas lunches and weddings are all examples. If you’re going to start saying no to things, family is not the place to do that.

This is a general walkthrough of how to make decisions for the small requests that happen on a day to day basis.

Up until recently these are really the only things I’ve said no to.

In the past, I’ve made much bigger decisions in relation to bigger opportunities but I’ve always jumped at them and said yes.

Recently I declined one of those bigger opportunities.

Dealing With Big Opportunities

I’ve recently had a huge revaluation about myself and it has the potential to change my whole life.

Over the course of my life, I’m confident I’ve tried every sport under the sun. Tennis, soccer, basketball, swimming, water polo, boxing, rugby league, rugby union – the list goes on.

At every single one of those sports, I was naturally gifted with the exception of soccer. I could do them well and I could do them better than most of the people I played with. Swimming, I went to state. In Rugby, I was the best tackler. Tennis, I won most of my matches and the rest came easily.

Sounds great right? Being good at sports, I could take that anywhere.

Well, no. Actually it’s really bad. I have never stuck to anything. I have never stuck to a skill, mastered it and turned it into something great.

I’ve had a habit of getting bored, quitting and jumping on to the next thing.

I’m going to be honest, when I realised this I got in a pretty bad head space and it really got to me but realistically it’s a great thing to find out about myself because now I can fix it.

A couple of weeks ago a friend came to me and asked if I wanted to be a co-founder with him on a new business idea. I won’t give away too much but essentially it’s a learning platform for crypto currencies.

You can find more information on the business here.

This was around the time of my realisation and keeping in mind that I already have my writing, I declined.

It was a huge step forward for me because I had finally broken out of that habit of taking every opportunity and decided to stick to my original plan of making it as a writer.

When a big opportunity arises, this is where the first question of the diagram becomes so important.

Does it get you closer to your goals?

If you keep swapping and changing, you will never become a master of anything. You will only ever be average. Good, at best.

I want to be a writer, so If I start up another business, it will be built around writing. NOTHING else! It might take years but I am going to become a master writer and this is the mindset you need to adopt.

If you want to become an entrepreneur, don’t go looking for a boring desk job in a big company. If you need a job, look for one in a startup to develop the skills of starting a company.

If you’re like me and you want to be a writer, don’t accept a role in anything less then something that gets you closer to that goal.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that if you’re working on a goal, opportunities are going to pop-up from everywhere. You need to sift through them and pick the ones that get you closer to that goal.

The idea that only a couple of opportunities will come to you in a lifetime is bullshit! If you’re out there working really hard towards a goal, I’d be confident in saying they come along every other day.

The people who hardly ever see opportunities are the people who are doing nothing with their life.

The problem you’ll have is strategically picking the right ones to follow.

Take Away

Saying no to day-to-day requests is easy. Saying no to big ‘distractions’ is hard because they often look like opportunities. By using my diagram, you’ll be able to identify the correct opportunities to chase.



  1. Don’t actually believe this. Constantly working only leads to burnout. It doesn’t allow for things to grow on their own. Goals aren’t a race to some end. If you don’t work on your goals for a day, you don’t fall behind. You just didn’t work on your goals.

    • You will never get closer to your goals having a day off, no matter how you try to justify it. Hard work beats everything.

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