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Why saying ’No’ is just as important as saying ‘Yes’

The successful “power couple” isn’t the one that’s doing everything; it’s the one that’s doing the right things. By mastering the art of saying ‘no’, you and your partner can focus on your shared goals, and create a life that truly reflects you.

It’s 1997. Twelve years prior, Steve Jobs was turfed out from Apple, the company he had co-founded and nurtured. Now he’s back in charge, but things are quite different. Apple is struggling, on the verge of bankruptcy. They have a whopping 350 products on the market and the smaller and sharper Microsoft is beginning to nip at their heels.

Steve Jobs sees an opportunity within the challenges Apple is faced with. It is simple, he wants to start using the word ‘no’ in the business.

He says ‘no’ to 340 out of the 350 products and simplifies Apple’s product range down to just 10. The move creates space in the company for them to be good at what they used to be good at, what is at their core, innovation. This simple change is ultimately what creates the environment in which Apple are able to produce the world-changing iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Interestingly, his use of the word ‘no’ wasn’t quite what it seemed though. That is to say, instead of Jobs using it as a negative refusal, it was in fact a positive affirmation of Apple’s dedication to innovation. A deliberate decision to do what mattered most to the company.

And it’s this side of ‘no’ that we often overlook in our personal lives. The idea that ‘no’ actually creates more opportunity in the areas that really matter. We are conditioned to believe that ‘yes’ is the way to success, happiness, and personal growth. ‘Yes’ to opportunities, ‘Yes’ to challenges, ‘Yes’ to more. But what if in fact it’s the opposite, what if in fact it is saying ‘no’ that allows us to fulfill our dreams?

Additionally, prior to the holidays, weeks’ worth of activities need to be organized, babysitters and entertainment arranged, all of which take time to plan and manage, often causing a battle for already strained resources within the relationship.

And it’s not just us adults who are disrupted by holidays. For kids, the abrupt change in routine is also jarring. Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, psychologist, explains the theory behind this “Maintaining predictability and structure is crucial for children’s well-being. The predictability helps children to feel safe and secure, which aids in their development and helps them cope with stress.”

At school, children benefit from companionship, a consistent timetable, engaging activities and a teacher’s full-time guidance. At home, they morph into free-range chickens — mostly free to follow their happy whims but often left running in somewhat wild circles whilst chasing one another.

Coping with these disruptions while balancing work, household chores and the happiness of our kids is stressful and can cause significant strain on a relationship.

So we’ve detailed five strategies below that you can employ together, to help you not only survive, but thrive during the school holidays:

The truth is that behind every ‘yes’, is actually a hidden ‘no’, so you might as well get deliberate about what you are saying ‘no’ to

Consider a common scenario, you and your partner are contemplating purchasing a larger house. It’s a modern property, spacious and beautifully designed with all the “must haves”.

Saying ‘yes’ to the house means taking on a large mortgage. Saying ‘yes’ to the larger mortgage might mean you say ‘no’ to asking for more flexibility at work, as these new financial demands require a stable income. Or the demands of the mortgage might mean saying ‘no’ to other lifestyle choices, like yearly overseas holidays.

Another typical situation people find themselves in is choosing how much time to dedicate to their job. A ‘yes’ to professional growth, might mean a ‘no’ to personal interests, fitness goals, or quality time with loved ones.

These scenarios underscore the idea that while we may believe we have been clear on what we say ‘yes’ to, we haven’t contemplated fully what as a result, we are saying ‘no’ to.

These daily check-ins can help you both to feel more understood whilst appreciating you aren’t in this alone. The relationship (the Team) then becomes an anchor that can help to stabilise the household when everything is out of routine.

Taking control of where you put your ’no’

Recognising that you are regularly saying ‘no’ to things in life without realising it, can help us make to start to think about how we can better use this powerful word. We can become more mindful around our decisions and consider better whether they align with our values and priorities. It empowers us to wield our ‘no’ more strategically, clearing the path for the ‘yes’ that genuinely matters.

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, especially as a couple, the challenge of saying ‘no’ takes on additional dimensions. Our shared commitments, aspirations, and societal expectations often add to the pressure of ‘doing it all’. The irony is that in our pursuit to be the power couple that ‘crushes’ life, we may find ourselves stretched thin, leading to a sense of unfulfillment and strain.

Our natural pushback against ‘no’

This struggle is magnified by two common misconceptions associated with saying ‘no’.

First, this is the admittance of our limitations. Saying ‘no’ can sometimes feel like an admission of inability, of not being ‘enough’ and there can be shame and guilt that comes from that. It’s crucial to shift this perspective and see it as an assertion of our priorities and a commitment to quality over quantity.

The second misconception is that saying ‘no’ can come across as rude or unsociable. It’s essential to remember that saying ‘no’ to an event or request doesn’t mean saying ‘no’ to a person or relationship. It’s not a rejection, but a redirection of our energy and time to something that aligns better with our values and goals.

How we use ‘no’ to great advantage

For us, we have found a powerful way to regain control of where we put our ‘no’. Every six months, we sit down to map out our goals (what we are saying ‘yes’ to) and what we are consciously choosing to say ‘no’ to. This active ‘no’ strategy transforms passive rejections into an intentional redirection of energy and time towards what truly matters. This isn’t about declining an invitation or an opportunity because we can’t manage it, it’s about choosing not to manage it so that we can invest our time, energy, and resources in what matters most to us.

Plus, by acknowledging what we’re saying ‘no’ to, we eliminate the FOMO gremlin. Our ‘no’s become less about loss and more about gain, reducing stress and freeing up our mental bandwidth for the things we’ve actively chosen to pursue.

The successful power couple isn’t the one that’s doing everything; it’s the one that’s doing the right things. By mastering the art of saying ‘no’, you and your partner can focus on your shared goals, and create a life that truly reflects you.

Remember that every ‘no’ is an opportunity for a more meaningful ‘yes’. Harness the power of ‘no’ and take control of your life, your relationship, and your success. It’s a subtle shift in thinking, but

one that can make a huge difference. You’re not missing out; you’re choosing a life that’s authentically yours.

Head to your fave podcast app and tune into the latest episode of Living the Team Life to hear relationship conversations by real people, for real people.

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