I HAVE A NEW favorite word. That word is “no.” My favorite word used to be “yes,” but no more.
I used to be a yes-man. I used to say “yes” to everything, like Jim Carrey in the movie “Yes Man.” You want me to work on that project? Yes. You want me to be on that committee? Yes. You want me to pick up that extra duty in my free time? Yes.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Now, I’m a no-man. You want me to be in charge of that committee? No. You want me to work on that new project? No. You want me to deal with that delicate issue? No.
I’m sure that, in the past, I would have said “yes.” Why have I become a no-man? Three reasons.
First, saying “no” is the superpower that being financially independent gives me. What does being financially independent mean?
According to an article I recently read, “Financial independence typically means having enough income to pay your living expenses for the rest of your life without having to work fulltime. Some people achieve this through saving and investing over many years, while others build successful businesses that can generate income without daily supervision.”
Second, I was recently selected for what is very likely my final military promotion, locking in a very significant military pension.
Finally, I realize that I have enough money, but not enough time. My grandfather just died, and no one cared about how much money he did or didn’t have. What’s important is the kind of man he was, and the impact he had on the world and the people who knew him.
I’m not saying I won’t say “yes” ever again. But when I do, it will be because I want to. Committee work someone else can benefit from? Projects that might be important, but I really don’t want to do? Dealing with difficult people when I have the option not to?
Joel M. Schofer, MD, MBA, is a Commander with the U.S. Navy’s Medical Corps. His previous articles were Winning the Game, Getting Used and The $121,500 Guestroom. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and don’t necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.