Want Your Best Year Yet? Resolve to Say “NO” to These 3 Activities

by | BiggerPockets.com

How much extra time do you have right now? Probably not much.

When we think of New Years, we picture a new start, the beginning of a better way of living and a time for change. We promise ourselves we’re going to get healthier, work less, have more fun and most importantly, start a bunch of new habits — and we slowly realize it’s too much and jump back into the old ruts.

The problem is that we are thinking about more. We keep adding a few more drops of water to a cup that’s already full and wonder why the water keeps pouring onto the table. It’s the American way of thinking: more, more, more.

I challenge you this year not to come up with more things to do, but rather make a list of things you won’t do anymore. If you want more time to learn about investing, get in better shape and have more fun, then you need to first stop doing other things so you have the time to focus on more important things.

Warren Buffett once said:

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

The reason so few people become successful is because they focus on more instead of less. The richest people in the world have the same amount of time in the day as everyone else — yet they find a way to accomplish so much more. It’s not because they add too many things to their to-do list. It’s because they focus on removing things to create the space to focus on the things that matter most. If you don’t start by making space in your day for creating future success, you’ll fall back on the old habits.

Here are some ideas of things we can remove from our lives.

Related: Goals and Resolutions Will Make You Broke and Depressed. Try This Instead.


Americans watch on average 2.8 hours of television a day. If we took even an hour of that time and spent it on learning about real estate, how far ahead would we be as investors? What if we listened to real estate audio books/podcasts while working out or driving to work? Every hour we spend learning about investing will add up to thousands of dollars in the future.

Working Too Hard 

If you spend all of your energy at work, you won’t have any left for yourself and your future. Should we work as hard as we do and give everything to our jobs or work less hard and keep some energy for ourselves and our future planning?

Related: The Real Reason We Fail at Our New Year’s Resolutions

Social Media

I used to spend hours on Facebook reading memes, advertisements and what my “friends” I barely knew were up to. Just a few months ago, I shut down my account to see if I could gain back some time (don’t worry; you can always reactivate Facebook by signing in again). Guess what? Life went on, and I was able to work more on investing, learning more and having more time for activities that make me happy. Besides, when you’re happy, less stressed and have more time, you can accomplish a lot more.

Saying “no” is what we should focus on first. If you make the time to be creative, to learn how to be better at investing (or just life in general), everything else will fall into place.

What are YOU resolving to say “no” to this year?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Brett Lee

Brett Lee is a licensed Real Estate Broker in Portland Oregon where he helps people achieve a better future so they can do the things that truly make them happy. Brett is also a buy-and-hold investor, property manager and investment advisor.


  1. Monique B.

    Well said, Brett. And very good advice for the new year.

    I’ve been calling my “no” items “Strategic Neglect” to give myself permission to say no — since it runs so counter to how we typically think about getting MORE things done. Your article reminds us all saying no is the enabler to getting MORE HIGH-IMPACT things done.

    May your 2016 be your best your EVER!

  2. Kaizen Christian

    I’m cleaning up my facebook newsfeed at the moment. It is so easy to spend 30 minutes scrolling through the news feed watching memes and videos. I’ve unfollowed quite a few people. And those I do follow, I’ve adjusted the news feed settings to “show less” from that person. It appears that in doing so, I don’t see their random likes that clutter the feed. I’m seeing more of only things they specifically posted.

  3. Jeff M.

    Thanks, Brett. And here’s a thought. You quote Warren Buffett as saying “The difference between successful and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

    Clearly, given his career and the context of this Blog, he is speaking of financial success. As we enter the new year I remind myself that success in life is more than financial for me. And the definition of success is different for everyone. True, television will advance few definitions of success, but saying “no” to another real estate deal at times might get some of us closer to inter-personal success.

    Again, thanks for the focused thoughts. I would simply build on them by suggesting that we take time to understand our definition of success.

  4. paul thompson

    This seems like a good way of distilling 2 similar lessons from two great books by Dave Allen and David Keller along with Warren Buffet’s advice on success

    1. ‘Eliminate’ as step one in Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done flow chart for productivity
    2. Focus on the ONE thing that will realize your stated goal from Gary Keller

    So said another way… say NO to the noise and learn to FOCUS on the signal… whether that be real estate, family time, or reading really good blogs on really good social media platforms. It’s a subjective choice based on each of our personal goals.

  5. My New Year’s resolution is to try and stay as even as I can in my life. I think that it’s important to be under control of the things you do. If you let yourself get carried away with an activity, you might throw off how you do things. Saying “no” to distractions and side projects is a big help.

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