I recently made one of the biggest self-discoveries of my life.

Like most high-performers, I’m what I call “perpetually dissatisfied.” I’m always reaching for more. 

I’ve had the good fortune to build a small fortune—mostly through timing, luck, and being a first-mover in an industry that was trending upwards.

But all my life, I’ve fought the desire for more money and stuff.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s okay to want material goods and to appreciate the finer things in life. That’s human nature. There are very few people who aren’t wired that way.

But I realized something recently: I can have more stuff. Lack of “stuff” is not the reason for my dissatisfaction.

What bothers me is not doing my best. 

It’s that simple. When I fall short of the high standards I’ve set for myself, I’m dissatisfied.

It gnaws at me to know one of my published articles is only 80% refined, that my teaching is sometimes only “mostly” effective, or a presentation I gave had only 90% of the preparation it needed.

You’ve had this feeling too, I’m sure. There are days when we’ve both been so overwhelmed with opportunity and distractions that we don’t give our best to our deep work.

It’s like when LeBron James has a bad game, when Adele has an off performance, when Ta-Nehisi Coates writes a weak article, or when Denzel Washington fails to nail a scene. 

The reason we underperform is simple: We’ve been saying “YES” to too many projects, and not saying “NO” to enough of them.

This is your life. Don’t let the chaos of another person’s life tempt you into saying “yes” too much. 

This comes as a big surprise to most people, but not saying “no” enough in life is what causes us great dissatisfaction. I know that we hear time and again how important it is to say “yes” to opportunity, but I haven’t found this to be the case. Neither have others who have achieved greatness. 

This is the reason I love Warren Buffett. He once said:  

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘NO’ to almost everything.” 

Saying “yes” too often is still a problem for most of my clients—and perhaps for you as well. It’s death from the distraction of 10,000 “yes’s” that causes the dissatisfaction and disappointment deep in your heart.

Let me give you an example of what this might look like: 

Let’s assume you’re a business owner, and you often see competitors creating new, “cutting-edge” products. Naturally, you think you should create your own—one that will be 10 times more successful.

Or maybe you’re watching your competitors broaden their reach by hopping from country to country. You assume that you, too, should be traveling the world to promote your brand and your products.

And what about marketing trends? How many times have you seen strategies employed by colleagues that make you want to do the very same thing?

But have you stopped to think that maybe a new product isn’t right for you? Maybe world-hopping networking is not suited to your company, your health, or your personality. And just maybe, the trendiest marketing strategies don’t fit your business.

It’s okay to have the impulse to follow trends. It’s human nature. We’re all prewired to act impulsively to some degree—to say “yes” to opportunity—but there’s a downside to it. After all, there’s only so much we can carry on our entrepreneurial shoulders, no matter how strong we are.

What you see others doing is NOT a good model for your life. There are many factors you need to consider, and what you see in others is merely the tip of scattered success—not the iceberg of struggle and skill that you hold beneath the surface.

This is your life. Don’t let the chaos of another person’s life tempt you into saying “yes” too much. 

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My friend and workshop client, Matt Del Negro, has a podcast called “10,000 No’s.” The title refers to the string of rejections that an actor often receives before his or her big breakthrough (the “big YES”).

But there’s another way to look at 10,000 No’s. “No” is a mantra—a way of rejecting the little requests that take you off track.

When you say “no,” you stay in your lane. You focus on what really matters. You achieve greatness, dominate your path, and live a Perfect Life.

So I challenge you to make “no” your mantra in 2018.

Starts by acknowledging what matters—by knowing exactly where you want to be and what will make the biggest difference in your life.

I can help with that. Just last week, I set out my “no’s” for the first quarter of the year using the materials from my Perfect Life Retreat. That’s where you should start—a simple, easy-to-follow way to find your one “yes” (and many “no’s”).  

Perfect Day FormulaIf you haven’t watched the 90-day planning videos from the Perfect Life Retreat, you should. (There’s still time to take advantage of the special Kickstart the Year Sale.) This program has helped clarify purpose, intent, and execution for thousands of my followers and clients—not because the answers were easy, but because they took the time to figure out what was really important.

There’s a path to success this year, but it requires you to set clear goals and routines. With these in place and your “yes” defined, you’ll be unstoppable.

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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