Don’t Let Guilt Rob You of Your Most Valuable Possession

My mother once told me that the first word I said was “No!” She said I continued to say “no” to just about everything.

“Does Michael want a bath?”

“Does Michael want to take a nap?”


“Does Michael want to take the bowl of spaghetti off his head?”


Somehow, along the way, I stopped saying “no” indiscriminately. As an adult, I discovered that saying “yes” was a better way to win friends and influence people. But I also learned that there were times when “no” really was the right answer.

In fact, knowing when to say “no” will actually help you reach your goals.

“No, I can’t make Ralph’s goodbye luncheon next week. I’m working on a major deadline. But I’ll be happy to kick in for his gift.”

“No, I can’t volunteer. I’ve got a business meeting that day. But please give me a call next year.”

Don’t let a momentary feeling of guilt sidetrack you from doing what you should be doing. You’ve carefully thought about your goals, you’ve set them, you’ve scheduled time to achieve them — and there should be no shame associated with sticking to your plan.

If helping others helps you feel good about yourself (it works for me), make that an integrated part of your goal-setting program. But don’t be pressured into anything. Be in charge of what you do… and when you do it.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]