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Learn to Say No to Monkeys to Get Ahead Financially in Life

Life is all about choices, and each one of us is faced with several every day. What are the choices necessary to get ahead financially?

Of the countless choices we make on a day to day basis, most are relatively meaningless in nature. What I mean is that the sky won’t collapse had we decided one way or another.

However, there are some choices that make us think long and hard.

Which ones are these? These can be health, family, friends, career, big-time financial related type decisions. But what about our own development and progress toward certain goals that we establish for ourselves? What if if want to get ahead financially?  Oh, just throw them out of the window because who care about those anyway?

I guess depending on the importance of these goals, and our own determination and drive to achieve them, they may or may not be at the forefront of our minds when making choices.  For the purposes of this article, I will assume that we are all mighty DRIVEN to meet our goals.

Tough Choices Necessary to Get Ahead Financially

When we are driven to reach certain goals we have established, the otherwise routine choices we make  on a day to day basis become tough decisions for us.  Each decision impacts progress toward our goal and hence the bigger overall picture.

We need to realize that we are on our own on this. Most people don’t know our goals, are not vested in it and frankly don’t care about it.  So should we continue to give way to the many at the expense of not meeting our OWN goals or significantly impede progressing on it?

Let me put some perspective to this.  Because of what I have done, what I know and what I can do, I am often asked out to happy hours, dinners out, dinners at people’s homes, etc.  I am also asked a lot whether I have time for a “quick” phone call, a Skype conversation or chat on G-talk.

Needless to say I am extremely selective when it comes to saying yes.  There was a period in my life when the answer was always a NO, without any “ifs” “ands” and “buts”.  Because I enjoy a more balanced life now, although I can say yes to ALL requests, I choose not to.

Instead, I spend the time doing what I enjoy best instead, such as getting a good work out, hanging out with family and close friends, playing video games, working on my blog, volunteering, playing sports, watching movies, downloading new music, planning travel, traveling, shopping or simply reading.

Being Hot Ain’t EZ

If you are a hot commodity (or property) that people often like to suck into for information (picking your brains) and often get invited out to dinners, lunch, or just drinks after work, take a step back and think about what saying yes really means (or can mean) for you.

Sure you may get a free meal or drink out of it, but consider how much time this takes away from your day and your goal.  Even if you might think that you can afford to spare an hour for a meeting, that hour often turns into an hour and a half, often leaving your brain drained to not be able to handle more work upon getting home. Remember, you are human.

Even if it takes the promised hour, consider the time it will take you to dress up, get there and then back.  Also consider the time it will take for your brain to gear up back into work mode and start making progress toward your goal.

It is clinically proven that even the smallest interruptions to workflow like compulsively checking email every half hour even when you have just one new email which you end up deleting and then logging off can take you on average of 45 minutes just to get back to the same pace of work you were at before getting interrupted. Sick!

There is a big mental or psychological gap that you have to overcome after each interruption.  There is a reason I don’t do serious work around my wife, or I will constantly have to hear “hey can you come here for a minute” while she is cooking and needs help with a meaningless task that the world can live without. I love my wife 🙂

Concluding Thoughts

Robert Allen taught me something very good when I was studying value real estate investing.  He taught me how to say no and throw OPM back to people.  OPM stands for Other People’s Monkeys.  “Can you do me a favor?” “No”. Take your monkey right back on to you.

I don’t mean to portray myself as ruthless. I know my priorities, and those that matter to me most.  Now obviously I won’t throw my Dad’s monkey back to him.  Neither will I refuse to help someone who has been there for me, has helped me, and is a person I genuinely want to help.  The point is, be selective, be careful and be mindful.

Over time I have significantly reduced the number of requests I entertain and get involved with, especially during the week.  Don’t take this the wrong way, I am not a loser.  I love my social life and I love the people I associate myself with.  If I didn’t I’d be missing the old times when I hit pretty much every happy around town thrice over in a month.

It’s awesome to be social.  Human beings are natural social beings. But the next time you feel like being social, take a step back and ask yourself what is it worth to the bigger picture?

Readers: For me starting a side business is one way to get ahead financially.  What tips can you share on how to get ahead financially in life relative to one’s peer group?

Saying No

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22 Responses to “Learn to Say No to Monkeys to Get Ahead Financially in Life”

  1. jim syyap says:

    My OPM? My own kids! Dang those TV commercials.

    Seriously–thank you for sharing.

  2. Great post. Leading a balanced life is essential to staying sane! I refuse to make work my all …. I want a relationship with my fiancee and my friends and family. I will not sacrifice that for anything.

  3. Nigel Chua says:

    It’s true, I agree. This is a universal skill that one has to learn and execute consistently if one wants to get things done. It’s based on the First Things First basis. As easy as it may sound to “just decide”, it’s often not that easy because we often “feel bad or guilty” about turning a person down and the possibility of “hurting them by rejection.”

    But without this skill, we will not be able to achieve what we set out to achieve. Like what Sunil said, be tactful, be decisive, choose who to say yes to, and do what you’ve set to do, and finish them. 🙂

    Some tips to get ahead financially – have a financial plan that you stick to. We are ruthless when it comes to cutting out unnecessary expenses (time, effort, money) from social events so we often say ‘no’ and rather spend the time reading books, going for seminars, or spending quiet quality time together. We also set aside a percentile of our money for savings, investment opportunities and charity. No exception to the rule.

    I also endeavour to do at least 5 things to grow our finances and business on a daily basis, be it big or small activities.

  4. Eleazar says:

    I need to focus on my work at home in order for me to follow my plan to get ahead financially. But I shouldn’t also forget that I have a family, a loving wife and beautiful two daughters that need my time. Sometimes in the middle of my work, my daughters will ask me questions relating to their homework and need to read pages of their books. I’m was disgusted by my children’s interference on my work flow. But then I realized, I have to understand their needs even if it will break the momentum of a busy day.

    • Sunil says:

      I can totally feel that Eleazar. While our families are the reason we strive for so much, I understand how even minor but periodic interruptions can kill productivity. Have you considered setting aside a block of time designated to help the little ones, and another block to work? Perhaps after they go to bed?

  5. Dee says:

    My challenge is that none of my friends work and are always tempting me with “come out and play”. (I live in a warm climate where outdoor activities beckon all year long…) I allow myself one half a day off to socialize with a friend – lunch, hiking, shopping, etc. My husband and I take one day a week off. Other than that, it’s “the pedal to the metal”. I’ve had to make my friends understand that just because I’m self-employed doesn’t mean I can take off whenever I want!

    • Sunil says:

      Dee are your friends millionaires? Or married to them? Can’t say that even the best friends will understand when explained clearly and properly – but giving work as an excuse is always a good and proven reason. No one can tell you not to work and earn a living 🙂

      I am interested in learning what have you found works best for someone in your case?

  6. Neil says:

    Hey Sunil – I’m hearing on this one. I appreciate the time you spent at lunch with Russell and I. You blog is a real source of motivation. I get caught up in doing a lot of those social things when I just need to put my head down and work first and get more passive income going. I’m a fan of Robert Allen. I read his book Multiple Income Streams a few years ago, but probably need to read it again. Or maybe I just stop reading and just start executing. I’ve absorbed a lot from people like you and your generosity with your knowledge.

    • Sunil says:

      Neil buddy great to see you here. I certainly appreciate your kind thoughts. It is not only you my friend, we all get caught up with all sorts of stuff and see the days, weeks and months fly before our eyes sometimes. But because those stints are inevitable, we need to ensure that the time we allot aside for work is purely focused in which we get as much done as frequently as it fits our schedules.

      What have you found to work best for you when pulling out of distraction mode and getting back to work mode?

  7. This is really cool, something to think about. makes me think of a question I get asked ages ago:” if you could earn $1000 selling apple plants or wait 10 more years to year 10 times of that selling apple, and get to keep the plants, what would you choose?”

    come say hi sometimes on my blog=)

  8. Haha, well, it must feel good to know that you’re in such high demand! Did you ever think of doing presentations or speaking, or perhaps more formalized training sessions?

    I agree that sometimes we do need to toss the monkeys off, and that email one is definitely a good point, especially when you have it connected to your phone.

    • Sunil says:

      I actually have done several presentations, including college universities (many have formal ecomm/internet marketing curricula now).

      I am also working on a training program for anyone interested in establishing a profitable niche site and benefit from the passive income stream it creates.

      Do you have any specific ideas in mind? I’d love to hear them.

  9. Remember the hip hop record “OPP” from the 90s? I guess, in your case, you’re not “down with OPM…”

  10. Claire says:

    What you have written is really interesting to me, a few years ago I was always up for going out or doing anything, however, now I am trying to save money but find, because of the crowd I am now associated with, everyone is always going out and spending money (quite a lot). This means I am usually asked to do things I would rather not and I really struggle to say no,,,,,,,

    • Sunil says:

      Welcome to the blog Claire. Now that you have been doing it, isn’t it so easy to say no? You can always say “yes” selectively, but the key is not to allow externalities to take over your freedom.

  11. Gabriel Gutierrez says:

    For me I think we need to balance it between our family and work..Even though how busy we are we need to find time also for our self, family and work..thanks for the great post.

    • Sunil says:

      Welcome to the blog Gabriel. I agree, it is our families after all who we work so hard for. Life for the most part is a continuous balancing journey.

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