Top 10 Minimalist Living Tips - #3

Note: In this series of posts, I will share the 10 most valuable minimalist living tips that I have learned in the past four years. These guidelines are helping me a lot in my continuous walk in the path of simplicity, and I would like to share them with you. At the end of the series, I will gather them all together for a synopsis.

Minimalist Living Tip #3: Establish priorities to be able to say no.

Minimalism is all about establishing one’s own priorities. It is about focusing on the things that are most important and meaningful to a person. If we don’t set our own priorities, other people will prepare their goals and priorities with us included in it.

That’s not particularly wrong, to be used to complete someone else’s priorities, especially if we are working for an employer or are a part of a group or organization with goals to achieve. What’s wrong is when we no longer have time to do the things that we really love, the things which give our lives their meaning, because all of our time are spent for other people’s businesses.

Before Minimalism

I used to be a person who always said yes to everybody’s demands and requests. It seems like I could never turn down anybody, and I feel like I’m Superman. What’s funny was I consistently carried out all of their requests. Over and over I had saved the day. Some people call this the Messiah Complex or Savior Syndrome or White Knight Syndrome.

What I didn’t realize was this tendency to save everyone's day was taking a toll on my health, my important relationships, and my career, as I never had enough time to improve and take care of these aspects of my life. Well, it might work for someone who has a Superhero calling such as the Equalizer, but for me it was like I’m becoming a people pleaser. And I didn’t like that.

During those times, I was always busy and stressed. The sad thing about it is that all my stress and busyness didn’t bring me any closer to achieving all of my life's goals and to figuring out my life purpose. I was just like a robot doing the bidding of the people around me.

But everything changed when I realized that I could always say no if I want to, and I’m not responsible and accountable for the lives of everyone around me. 

Finally, I've accepted I’m NOT Superman!

How to Say No

Here are some tips on how to appropriately say no:

1. Simply say “I’m sorry, but I can’t do it right now” in a caring yet firm tone. If a person is sensible and wise, those words are enough for him to understand you. If he can’t understand it, he is being rude and it shows how closed-minded he is. If he keeps on pressuring you, it’s alright to also keep on answering him with “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t fit my schedule” or “I’m sorry, but I have a prior commitment.”

2. If it is not yet easy for you to become firm, you can answer with “I will have to get back to you on that” or “I have to check my schedule.” Say it in a neutral tone so that he will not have his hopes up that you are going to answer with a yes if eventually you are going to say no. This will give you time to assess if you could take on his request or not. Most of the time, though, the requesting person will just find another one to nag as his request is almost always urgent. Well, that’s not your problem, isn’t it?

3. If you really want to help but just don’t have the time, you can say “I really want to help you with that, but my plate is full right now. How about in (enter a time period)?” Or you can just commit for a lesser role in his request, like instead of making the whole PowerPoint presentation, you can just help him find pictures and images for it.

Passion and Purpose

Minimalism helped me determine my passions and priorities to discover my life’s purpose. I’m still setting up all of my habits, routines, and daily activities to align with my purpose, and I must say that I think it’s going to be a lifelong process.

Saying no to someone may not be that easy, but sooner or later people around you will come to respect the things that matter to you most. Of course, you don’t completely ignore everyone and just be a super-independent island on your own as life isn’t about that. Life is also about building relationships, being part of something special, and contributing to the world. The thin line is when you don’t have enough time to be who you are anymore.

The most successful people are those who can properly determine the right time and situation to say yes or no. Life is all about making choices, and every time you say no you are choosing to honor your values and commitments over the demands of others.

Top 10 Minimalist Living Tips