If you want to be more successful, stop saying ‘yes’ to these 10 things

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Ever feel like you’re saying “yes” too much?

Sure, it’s great to be positive and open to new things, but saying “yes” all the time can actually mess up your goals.

Trust me, it’s okay to say “no” sometimes, especially when you want to succeed.

In this article, I’ll share 10 things you should probably stop saying “yes” to.

Ready?

Let’s get started!

1. Stop Saying ‘Yes’ to Last-Minute Plans That Don’t Serve You

Okay, so you’re sitting at home or maybe wrapping up some work, and boom!

Your phone buzzes. A friend texts, “Hey, wanna hang out tonight?”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a little spontaneity.

But if you had plans to relax, work on a personal project, or even just get some good sleep for a busy day ahead, think twice before you text back “Sure!”

When you say ‘yes’ to last-minute plans that don’t line up with your goals, you’re kinda saying ‘no’ to yourself.

Your time is valuable; treat it that way!

Keep your eyes on the prize and stick to plans that help you get there.

Remember, it’s not about turning into a hermit or ignoring your friends—it’s about knowing when to say ‘yes’ and when it’s totally cool to say ‘no, thanks!’

2. Stop Saying ‘Yes’ to Extra Work You Can’t Handle

We’ve all been there: you’re at work, and your boss walks by your desk. “Hey, can you take on this extra project?” they ask.

You want to impress, so you quickly say “yes,” even though your plate is already overflowing.

Sound familiar?

Look, I get it. I’ve been the “yes” person who thinks that taking on all the work will make me the star employee.

But let’s be real—burning out isn’t going to get you that promotion or improve your life.

Doing a few things well is way better than doing many things poorly.

It’s okay to let your boss know that you’ve got too much on your plate already.

You’re a human, not a robot!

Being honest can actually show that you care about the quality of your work, and that’s a good thing.

So when extra work comes your way, pause and think. Is this going to help me succeed, or is it just going to stress me out even more?

Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ when you need to.

3. Stop Saying ‘Yes’ to Relationships That Drain You

You know that friend or family member who only reaches out when they need something?

Or that person who loves to unload their problems on you but is mysteriously absent when you’re the one in need?

Yeah, it’s time to talk about those energy-draining relationships.

I’ve been there—saying ‘yes’ to every coffee catch-up, every favor, every late-night “I need to vent” call, thinking it’s just what you do for people you care about.

But then I realized something: I was exhausted, emotionally and mentally, and these relationships were taking more than they were giving.

It’s not selfish to want balance in your relationships; it’s actually healthy.

Constantly saying ‘yes’ to people who drain your energy isn’t noble; it’s self-sabotage.

Your emotional well-being matters, and you can’t be there for the people who truly matter if you’re spread too thin.

If a relationship feels one-sided and you’re always the giver, it’s okay to reevaluate and even say ‘no’ when needed.

Your time, your energy, and your well-being are valuable, so don’t be afraid to treat them that way.

4. Stop Saying ‘Yes’ to “Safe” Opportunities That Keep You in Your Comfort Zone

Why would you say ‘no’ to something safe and comfy?

Well, here’s the thing: staying in your comfort zone may feel good, but it’s not where growth happens.

Ever hear the saying, “The magic happens outside your comfort zone”?

It’s a cliché because it’s true.

Imagine you’re offered a job that’s a lot like the one you already have.

It’s “safe,” sure, but does it get you closer to where you want to be in five or ten years?

If the answer’s no, then maybe that ‘yes’ should actually be a ‘no.’

I once took a job that was super similar to my old one because it felt safe.

I thought, “Hey, I can do this in my sleep!” But you know what? I was bored out of my mind, and I wasn’t learning or growing.

In hindsight, I wish I’d held out for something that would have pushed me a little more.

So the next time a “safe” opportunity comes knocking, think long and hard.

Could saying ‘yes’ actually be holding you back from bigger and better things?

If so, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ and step out of that comfy, cozy comfort zone.

5. Stop Saying ‘Yes’ to Procrastination (Even When It’s Fun)

Ah, procrastination—the art of delaying what we should be doing by doing things that feel good in the moment.

Whether it’s scrolling through social media, binge-watching TV shows, or even cleaning (yep, some people procrastinate by suddenly becoming home-organizing ninjas), we all have our go-to distractions.

I remember when I was working on a big project with a tight deadline.

The stress was on, and what did I do? I found myself saying ‘yes’ to a video game marathon.

Sure, it was fun, but man, did I regret it later when I had to pull an all-nighter to catch up.

Here’s the deal: every time you say ‘yes’ to procrastination, you’re saying ‘no’ to progress.

You’re also saying ‘no’ to less stress, better performance, and that amazing feeling of accomplishment.

So, when you catch yourself sliding into procrastination mode, take a moment. Ask yourself, “Is this really what I should be saying ‘yes’ to right now?”

More often than not, you’ll find the answer is a big, fat ‘no.’ And trust me, future you will thank you for it.

6. Stop Saying ‘Yes’ to Hustle Culture and Overworking

In a world that glorifies hustle culture and #NoDaysOff, saying ‘yes’ to rest and self-care can actually make you more successful.

I know, it seems backward. Shouldn’t you be grinding 24/7 to achieve your dreams?

Well, let me tell you, I bought into that mindset for a long time. I thought if I wasn’t working every waking minute, I was falling behind.

But you know what actually happened? I burnt out. Big time. My creativity plummeted, my focus waned, and my performance suffered.

Science backs this up, too. Studies show that breaks, downtime, and even—gasp!—vacations can increase productivity, spark creativity, and reduce stress.

It’s about working smarter, not harder.

So, don’t automatically say ‘yes’ to that extra late-night work session or skip out on your friends and family just to squeeze in more hours at the office.

It’s okay to unplug and recharge, and it might actually help you reach your goals faster.

Remember, a well-rested you is a more successful you.

Go ahead, say ‘no’ to the hustle culture and ‘yes’ to taking care of yourself. 

7. Stop Saying ‘Yes’ to Unhealthy Habits Just Because “You Deserve It”

You know how it goes. It’s been a long, hard day, and you think, “I deserve some junk food,” or “One more drink won’t hurt.”

While treating yourself once in a while is totally fine, consistently saying ‘yes’ to unhealthy habits can set you back big time.

I’ve been there. After stressful days, I’d convince myself that I “deserved” to binge on snacks or skip the gym.

It felt good in the moment, but over time, those little ‘yeses’ added up, affecting my health and even my self-esteem.

Here’s the thing: what you really deserve is to feel good, be healthy, and be at your best.

Unhealthy habits might offer instant gratification, but they won’t bring you long-term happiness or help you achieve your goals.

The next time you’re tempted to say ‘yes’ to something you know isn’t good for you, take a step back.

Ask yourself if that choice is really going to serve you in the long run.

Chances are, you’ll find it easier to make a decision that genuinely does you good.

8. Stop Saying ‘Yes’ to Avoiding Tough Conversations

No one likes awkward or tough conversations, whether it’s asking for a raise, setting boundaries, or even ending a relationship that’s not working anymore.

It’s so easy to say ‘yes’ to the status quo just to avoid the discomfort.

I’ve been in situations where I put off difficult conversations for way too long.

Maybe it was avoiding a talk about money with a friend who kept dodging their half of the bill, or not setting boundaries with a demanding client.

And you know what happened? Nothing good.

The stress just kept building, and the problem didn’t magically disappear.

When you dodge tough conversations, you’re essentially saying ‘yes’ to unnecessary stress and ‘no’ to solving issues that could improve your life.

These discussions may be hard, but they’re often the stepping stones to better relationships, better opportunities, and ultimately, a better you.

So, the next time you find yourself wanting to push a difficult conversation under the rug, stop and think. Are you really doing yourself any favors?

Often, the brief discomfort of an honest talk is far better than the long-term stress of avoidance.

9. Stop Saying ‘Yes’ to the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Ah, FOMO—the fear that everyone is having a blast without you.

With social media constantly showing us everyone’s highlight reel, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out if you’re not part of every event, trend, or social gathering.

I used to be a massive FOMO victim. I’d scroll through Instagram seeing friends at parties, concerts, or exotic vacations and think, “Why am I not there?”

So, I’d say ‘yes’ to every invite, even when I was tired, busy, or just not interested.

And guess what? I wasn’t happier; I was stretched thin and stressed out.

Saying ‘yes’ because of FOMO often means saying ‘no’ to your own needs and priorities.

You can’t be everywhere and do everything—and that’s perfectly okay.

What’s truly important is making the most out of the moments that genuinely matter to you, not cramming your calendar just to feel “included.”

So next time FOMO starts to creep in, take a deep breath and consider what you actually want to do.

It’s perfectly fine to say ‘no’ and focus on what truly makes you happy, not what you think is expected of you.

Your well-being will thank you for it.

10. Stop Saying ‘Yes’ to Negativity and Self-Doubt

Last but definitely not least, let’s talk about that inner critic we all have.

You know, the one that says you can’t do it, you’re not good enough, or that you’ll fail.

It’s incredibly easy to say ‘yes’ to these negative thoughts, mainly because they’re coming from inside your own head.

I’ve caught myself doing this more times than I’d like to admit.

When faced with a challenge, it was almost second nature to doubt myself and think, “I can’t pull this off.”

But let me tell you, giving in to self-doubt is like handing the keys of your life over to negativity.

When you say ‘yes’ to self-doubt, you’re saying ‘no’ to opportunities and growth.

You’re limiting your own potential before even giving yourself a chance.

Learning to challenge these negative thoughts can be a game-changer.

When that inner critic starts talking, take a moment to question it.

Is it really true, or is it just fear talking?

Counter it with positive affirmations, past successes, or even just the willingness to try.

Say ‘no’ to the doubt and ‘yes’ to your potential.

Don’t underestimate the power of a well-placed ‘no.’

It can free you from many things that hold you back, paving the way for a more successful, fulfilling life.

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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