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This One Small Word Is The Secret To A Better Work-Life Balance

With the kids back in school, it’s time for us grown-ups to get our heads in the game. Enter the first article from our September Back To Work series.
by Rosie Allabarton | Sep 4 2017

For many of us, September is the month of fresh starts and new opportunities. Whether we’re beginning a new job, or returning to work after a trip, many of us share that “back to school” feeling that comes with the changing of the season.

And as we all know, going “back to school” has both positive and negative connotations. Early on, we catch up with our friends and start in on new and interesting projects. Even the daily and weekly routine can bring a bit of comfort. For some, however, transitioning away from summer can signal an end to certain freedoms. Perhaps there’s a dread of the return to late nights at the office, weekends spent at work-provided laptop, or messages from a boss pinging after hours.

Is Work-Life Balance Possible?

In a demanding workplace, it’s becoming harder and harder to maintain a good work-life balance. “No” just doesn’t seem like an option sometimes. When everyone around you is saying “yes,” saying “no” can feel like you’re going against the office culture.

With more incentives to live more of our lives in the workplace, and more technology to enable us to do our jobs effectively from home, it can feel like we don’t have a reason to say “no.” What’s another project, meeting, or extra couple of hours at our computers when we’re trying to be team players?

It’s probably no surprise to any of us that learning to say “no” to what we don’t want to do and learning to say “yes” to ourselves is crucial to our happiness, health, and success in both the workplace and our personal lives. When is the right time to play our “no” card, though? And, when the time comes, do we have the confidence to do it?

One Word Can Unlock A Happier Life

In The Power of No by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher, we learn exactly why saying “no” is crucial to our future achievements, both personal and professional. We also discover why we need to have the confidence to say “no,” not just to small tasks which we don’t want to do, but also to what we instinctively feel is not right for us.

It may sound daunting right now, but having the resolve to be true to ourselves, the authors claim, and clearly saying what we do and don’t want will ultimately benefit everyone, including our bosses. We’ll be more effective in our work and gain the respect of our peers and employers.

By saying “no” to the noise that surrounds us and replacing that noise with silence, we are able to have more meaningful experiences with the people around us. We can give them more of our attention and truly engage them.

When this kind of environment is fostered in the workplace everyone can benefit. In fact, looking at it this way, saying “no” can actually be incredibly positive. But first we have to say “no” to the things that drag us down and impact us negatively like working late into the night or taking on more projects than we can handle.

Once we have done this we gain more space for the things that are important and play to our strengths, plus the time to dedicate our full attention to them.

Prioritizing Yourself Benefits Everyone

Think about it: if you stay up until 3am working on a report for your boss, who is ultimately going to benefit from it? You’ll be sleep-deprived and unable to perform well at work the next day. The report won’t be high quality because it was written under pressure. The disruption to your sleep schedule will start to trickle into other aspects of your work, leading to small mistakes that can pile up and stress you out further and affect your colleagues as well.

Far better to get a good night’s sleep and take on your work refreshed in the morning. It won’t be easy saying “no” to your boss, but, ultimately, your supervisors will respect you more for recognizing what you need to achieve the best results and prioritizing accordingly.

Saying “no”, the authors insist, is also about kindling our inner needs, interests, and curiosities. It’s saying “no” to being someone who we are not, as well. If you find you are often sitting in work meetings asking yourself why you are there, or feigning interest in a project that really isn’t you, then it could be time to say “no” to this career completely and “yes” to exploring something that really excites you.

Saying “yes” to life and discovering a career we find more rewarding the more time and energy we invest in it will be a positive thing for everyone: our bosses (who can hire someone who is really passionate), us, and everyone who interacts with us. Enthusiasm is contagious!

James and Claudia Azula Altucher remind us to tune in to what we really want to do and see if our current employment meets that need. If it doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to find out what it is that really clicks with us and say “yes” to the future we really want!

Just Say No!

What we’ve taken away from the The Power of No is that we need to learn to prioritize what’s actively good for us and say “yes” to those things. At the same time we need to learn to say “no” to the things and people which negatively impact us.

If you’re worried about your return to the workplace and the unrealistic demands of a 24-hour work culture, perhaps it’s time to start asserting your own power of no. You can create a positive and productive environment not just for yourself, but for everyone around you too.

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