Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a number of invitations to participate in teleseminars, add to websites, and even contribute to other books. At the moment, I have three major priorities:

  • Working on my second book
  • Doing more paid speaking
  • Growing revenue on the Unmistakable Creative

In most cases, these invitations don’t align with those three goals. After years of saying yes, I’ve had to start saying no to just about everything that comes my way. Jim Bunch, founder of The Ultimate Game of Life, posed the following question in his interview on the Unmistakable Creative: “What if you said no to everything that’s not aligned with your greater purpose?”

Most of us (myself included) find ourselves almost daily saying yes to all sorts of things that are not aligned with our greater purpose.

  • We say yes to pointless distractions
  • We say yes to meetings with no clear outcomes

But when we say start saying no to everything that’s not aligned with our most essential priorities, we start to build meaningful momentum.

Here are three things to consider when you’re deciding if you should say yes or no.

1. Mental Energy Versus Time

The truth is, you might have the time to actually do many of the things that you ultimately say no to. But by saying yes to those things, you take away mental energy from things that are valuable to you. It might take one hour to participate in something, but the opportunity cost of that hour might be an entire day of lost focus on things that matter the most.

2. Essentialist Versus Non-Essentialist

The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes the obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.

Greg Mckeown

You can be either an essentialist or non-essentialist. And in many ways, it’s often the difference between being a professional and an amateur. Essentialists say no to almost everything. Non-essentialists say yes to a lot of things in the hopes that they might lead to something worthwhile—they usually don’t.

3. "Hell Yes” Versus “No”

Derek Sivers has a policy of “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” When you’re starting out, this might be hard to do. But as you progress, you’ll realize that this is a great filter for work that you’re proud of. It makes it pretty easy to determine what you want to do versus what you really don’t.

In choosing guests for Unmistakable Creative, I’ve said no quite often. Anytime I’ve not stuck to the “hell yes” policy I find myself in a conversation I regret having agreed to, or interviews that I don’t think we can publish.

By saying no, you not only focus all your energy and effort on your most essential priorities, but you also create space for things that are actually worth saying yes to.

This article was originally published on Medium. It has been republished here with permission.

Photo of person thinking courtesy of Paul Bradbury/Getty Images.