Are you tired of saying “yes?”

I know… there’s a compulsion to say “yes.” And unfortunately, the average day has a lot of them.

You want to say yes to capitalize on opportunities and not miss the next big thing.

And you want to say yes to be a good colleague—a real team player.

And there are your customers, clients, and stakeholders who expect you to say yes.

Not to mention saying yes to be a generous spouse, parent, child, neighbor, or friend.

But is saying “yes” too often making you better at any of those things? Or is it making you a lousy, substandard version of all of them—and wearing you out in the process?

I’m inviting you to join my crusade to make November the month you embrace, saying, “NO!”

I’ve been capitalizing on the name of the 11th month since 2013 when I announced my intentions in an article for Psychology Today called Happy NO-vember: 10 Things to Say “No” to This Month.

Since November 1st, 2019, it’s been a daily ritual for me to share one idea of something you might say NO to if you want to free yourself from the weight of your commitments and liberate your time and energy for more worthwhile pursuits.

Here’s a quick start guide if you want to play along. Then, I’ll be back in the following posts to help you understand why you say “yes” and how to say “no” nicely.

Opportunities to say NO Audit

Work through this checklist and identify one category that could be a priority for saying “NO” this week.

Mental and Physical Clutter

Is your attention divided like a Labrador in a field of squirrels? Maybe it’s time to work on one of these:

  • Inbox: is it time to remove subscriptions that clog your inbox? I highly recommend you remove as many as possible. One trick is to search your inbox for “unsubscribe” because these subscription and advertising messages all have that at the bottom. (Did you know that you can switch your frequency of emails from me to one monthly newsletter digest of all my posts.)
  • Notifications: take this chance to review which notifications you have on your devices. Turn off as many as possible. Get good at using “Do Not Disturb” when you’re concentrating, socializing, or sleeping.
  • Desk: This is a big one for me this week. My desk has become a dense jungle of paper (and garbage and granola bar wrappers). Would you join me in saying no to desk clutter this week?

Work Tasks and Responsibilities

Is your calendar a solid rainbow of meetings and obligations? Maybe it’s time to cut back on one of these:

  • Meetings: are you attending standing meetings from which you could extricate yourself? Could you attend part of the meeting? Send a delegate? Reduce the frequency or duration? Suggest the forum is no longer necessary and delete it outright?
  • Priorities: have you allowed stakeholders to pile up multiple priorities on you with no clear direction about what needs to be done first? Are you multitasking and feeling your workload balloon while your thoughtload explodes? Does your priority list need pruning?
  • Roles: is this the time to revisit the roles you’re playing to scale back to the ones that best use your talents and expertise? Are there committees you should no longer be a part of? Volunteer efforts that have run their course? Unofficial roles that you could pass to others (like note taker, cheerleader, or liaison)?

Relationships and Expectations

Are your relationships more of a drain than a well? Maybe your priority could be to work on one of these:

  • Friends: do you have friends who are doing more harm than good? Downers? Parasites? Lovely people, who don’t float your boat anymore? Is there someone you need to say “no” to? Or someone you need to let slip away?
  • Emotional Labor: are there things you do in your relationships that have become a burden? Would you like to hand over the baton of menu planning, carpool organizing, or Christmas present buying? Is it time to say “NO” to arduous responsibilities you’ve been carrying for too long?
  • Conflict Debt: have you bottled up an issue for too long? Is there something you need to get off your chest to move forward?

Thoughts and Behaviors

Are you your own worst enemy? Maybe this is where you need to start:

  • Resilience-killers: Are you making choices that detract from your health, stamina, and resilience? Do you devalue sleep? Are you fueling yourself with low-grade food? Do you spend hours a day sitting inside in artificial light?
  • Stress-enhancers: Is the narrator in your head spinning you into an anxious mess? Are you fretting about things you can’t control? Making up stories about what others think of you? Striving for perfection?
  • Apologizing: Do you make a habit of apologizing for your decisions, even if they were good decisions? Do you put your needs beneath everyone else’s? Do you walk around with sorrow, guilt, or shame?

Tasks, responsibilities, and habits build up over time and eventually clog the arteries of our lives. As a result, we let people down, do a poor job, underinvest in rest, and stress ourselves out.

Review these different categories and see where you can strip out the tasks, responsibilities, and habits that no longer work for you.

Will you join me in the quest to be happier, healthier, and more productive?

Find the entire NOvember campaign in written form here on LinkedIn

Or in TikTok-style 60-second video form here on YouTube. If the link doesn’t work, here’s the URL


And tell me in the comments what you would add to your NO list!