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DAN KOE

ALEX MATHERS

TAYLIN SIMMONDS

Founder, KorteX
3.5M followers

medium.com top writer
120K followers

BRAND CONSULTANT
79K followers

★★★★★

★★★★★

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"If you want practical strategies to maximize your own well-being, then create a profitable internet business around your passions, interests and curiosities – Goldfield is your guy."

DAN KOE

In this newsletter I’m going to teach you:

🔹 How to value your time,

🔹 How to take it back,

🔹 How to establish healthy social boundaries,

🔹 How to actually say ‘no’.

You should want to learn this stuff because your life is short. It could end right after you read this newsletter. How many more opportunities will you even get to overextend yourself for people who give nothing back? There are no guarantees.

Besides, boundaries are actually win/win.

Sadly, most people don’t learn to say ‘no’ because it seems easier to continue with things as they’ve always been. But it isn’t. Let me prove it to you…

The Surprising Cost of Saying 'Yes'

Say you’re expected to work an extra 10-20 minutes every day. You consider talking to your boss about this, but decide it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Is it really though?

There are 250 working days in a year. This puts you at 62 & 1/2 hours of unpaid overtime per year (which is worth $468.75 on minimum wage).

Would you go to an ATM, draw out $450 and hand it to your boss—once per year?

This is just one example of the cost of weak boundaries. The cost for you might be different. Maybe—

🔹 You always do the dishes

🔹 You always call your mother before your siblings do

🔹 You always put your neighbours’ bins out for collection

🔹 You always pick up the kids from school

🔹 You always cover for your colleagues

🔹 You always get the first round of drinks

Whatever way you’re overextending, one question must be answered if you’re ever going to rebalance: how did you get here?

How You Were Brainwashed Into Unhealthy Boundaries

If you were anything like me as a kid, you hated being told what to do. So you resisted. And when you resisted, you were punished.

The main reason you struggle to say ‘no’ as an adult is a conditioned fear of what will happen if you do.

But there are other reasons too:

🔹 Low self-worth

🔹 No examples of healthy boundaries to follow

🔹 Untrained communication skills

I’m going to explain how you can overcome these problems.

Here’s how, step-by-step…

Step 1: Get Clear On The Value of Your Time

Here’s the quick ‘n’ dirty way to figure out what an hour of your time is worth:

1. Take your average sleeping time and subtract it from 24 (eg. 24 - 8 = 16)

2a. If you’re on an hourly wage, multiply it by your daily working hours then divide that figure by your daily waking hours (eg. 20 x 8 = 160… 160 / 16 = 10)

2b. If you’re on a salary, divide your annual take-home pay (after tax) by 365, then again by your number of waking hours (eg. 45000 / 365 = 123… 109 / 16 = 7.68)

The number you end up with is the actual monetary value of one hour of your time.

Now, if you can:

🔹 Get your groceries delivered

🔹 Hire a cleaner

🔹 Delegate work tasks

🔹 Get improvements made to your home

🔹 Get your car washed

For less than your time-value figure, DO IT.

This also applies to favours you do for others. If you mow your mother’s lawn but you can hire someone else at a lower rate than your time-value figure, DO IT.

This will take a couple of weeks or months to implement but it’ll be worth it when you’ve saved not only the time but the energy and headspace too.

How I Saved 2600 Hours By Spending 10

For the first 15 years of my career as a drum kit teacher I did all my bookings over phone, email and text. This cost me 10 hours each week.

As web apps matured I saw online booking systems popping up. I spent 10 hours setting one up so that students could see my calendar live and book appointments without ever speaking to me.

It was difficult to make that initial time investment (and even more difficult to activate the proactive thinking). But the numbers speak for themselves: it was well worth it.

💡 Consider: what proactive time investment this week could save you thousands of hours over the next five years?

Go One Better With Your ‘Aspirational Hourly Rate’

Before he acquired large sums of money, ​Naval Ravikant​ set an aspirational hourly rate for himself of $5,000 per hour! Of course, he wasn’t able to stick to it religiously, but his ​blog post on the subject​ shows that it was an important experiment nonetheless:

"I still ended up doing stupid things like arguing with the electrician or returning the broken speaker," Naval wrote. "But I shouldn’t have. And I did a lot less of it than my friends. I would make a theatrical show out of throwing something in the trash or giving it to Salvation Army, rather than returning it or trying to fix it.

I would argue with girlfriends, “I don’t do that. That’s not a problem that I solve.” I still argue that today with my wife and with my mother, when she hands me little to-do’s. I say, “I would rather hire you an assistant.” This was true even when I didn’t have money."

Step 2: The 3 Types of Social Boundaries

Type 1: 'Smoked Salmon Boundaries'

When you serve smoked salmon, you present it nicely. You fold it into a pretty shape on top of an egg muffin and carefully place the plate down in front of your guest. But the moment their cutlery touches it: flop.

This is what most people’s boundaries are like.

You’ve probably had conversations about your boundaries. Maybe you’ve even written them down or rehearsed them in your head. But the moment your boss makes contact with them: flop.

Type 2: 'Brittle Boundaries'

Remember that schoolteacher who had a heart attack when you broke the rules? Their boundaries were so firm that they couldn’t move an inch without breaking. This is the second-most common type of boundary.

Type 3: 'Bamboo Boundaries'

Bamboo is firm but flexible. Healthy boundaries share these qualities.

Many structures in tropical climates are made of bamboo because it’s uniquely suitable in extreme weather. It stands against the wind, but it bends to the hurricane. Other materials either flop or break.

brown Beranda signage

When you have healthy boundaries, you'll be able to decline an offer of drinks after work, and this will afford you the time to attend a family wedding without begrudging it.

Why Does Everyone Have The Wrong Type of Boundaries?

It all comes back to that childhood dynamic I discussed earlier. When you tried to stand up for yourself as a kid you were told off, and you dealt with this in one of two ways:

  1. You yielded. (This leads to Smoked Salmon Boundaries.)
  2. You threw a tantrum. (This leads to Brittle Boundaries.)

How to Establish The Right Type Of Boundaries

You need 3 ingredients to establish healthy boundaries:

  1. Your hour-unit value (above)
  2. Clarity on what’s important to you (below)
  3. The actual tactics for enforcing your boundaries (coming up in Step 3)

What’s important to you is hidden in plain sight. Just zoom out and consider your behaviour over the past year. Specifically, recall what you chose to do when these 3 conditions were met—

  1. You were alone
  2. You’d dealt with all obligations
  3. You had the time & energy to do whatever you wanted

Whatever you ended up doing during those times is what’s important to you.

Now, you might not want that to be what’s important to you, but it is.

If, during those times, you watched WWE and drank a whole case of beer then I’m sorry, but that’s what’s important to you. And the first step toward changing this is admitting it to yourself.

The Wrong Way to Examine Yourself

I struggled with the question ‘what do I want’ for years. I tried to answer it in many different ways, but always in the abstract—as if it were an essay question.

It was only when I started to examine my behaviour honestly and without bias that I discovered what was really important to me.

It turned out to be mindfulness that was important to me. But at the time I resisted that truth (which is why it stayed hidden to me for so long).

I wanted to be consistent with what I’d wanted in the past.

I wanted to want something that was easy to build a business upon.

I wanted to want something that my father would find agreeable.

Mindfulness was none of those things. But it was what I thought about when I woke up in the morning, what I thought about in each spare moment of the day, and what I thought about before falling asleep at night. Every time. For over a year. So I had to come to terms with this. I did, and that’s how I’m here writing to you now.

Step 3: How to Say ‘No’

Now that you know where your time and energy is going, AND what’s really important to you, now it’s time to take control of the balance between these two.

Currently, other people are using your time and energy to get what’s important to them. You’re giving it up by saying ‘yes’.

Now, you’re going to learn to guard those precious resources by saying ‘no’.

‘’No.’ is a complete sentence.’ - Anne Lamont

People aren’t going to like it when you say ‘no’ to them. Especially when they’re used to you saying ‘yes’. Double especially when you can’t tell them that it’s for work or some other obligation.

The concept of generosity has been so warped that it now means ‘kill yourself for other people or feel guilty’.

But you no longer subscribe to this.

You deserve to prioritise yourself, and here’s why…

Everyone Deserves Your Time & Energy (Including You)

There’s a delusion at the root of that warped concept of generosity. This delusion is that you are somehow in a separate category to everyone else—that everyone else is deserving of your time and energy, but you are not. This is nonsense.

Giving Yourself Time Is Not Selfish

‘Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say ‘yes’ they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.’ - Brené Brown (Author, ‘Daring Greatly’)

In the case of emergency on an aeroplane, adults are told to secure their own oxygen mask before securing their children’s. This is because if they pass out, the kids are fucked.

Similarly, if you don’t take time to nourish yourself then you, too, will be unable to help others.

Giving yourself time doesn’t mean you’ll end up at the bar every day. The fact that you’ve struggled to say ‘no’ until now is proof that you have no shortage of compassion. It’s now time to turn that compassion toward yourself.

The Tactics

Imagine you receive an email from someone in your family who demands that you accompany them to your little cousin’s stage show because your aunt really wants you there and the cousin just won’t understand if you’re not and the whole family is going to dinner afterward and it’s your uncle’s birthday the following week and it’d be a real shame if you didn’t show up and she misses you and she doesn’t get to see you enough these days and why are you never around and…

Deep breath.

Now, tell them ‘no.’

Actually write that reply.

Remember: a request for your time is a request. Requests can be accepted or politely declined.

Practice this as many times as you like, imagining a different scenario each time.

The better you get at writing these imaginary refusals, the easier you’ll find it to refuse someone for real—eventually even face-to-face (especially if you practised on that someone, specifically).

And remember: ‘No.’ is a complete sentence. You’ll feel you should give a reason for saying ‘no,’ but you don’t have to.

The Amazing Magic of Saying ‘No’

Once you’re supremely confident in your ability to say no, something spooky happens: you no longer have to.

When I started out as a freelance musician I took every bit of work I could get.

‘Yes.’

‘Yes.’

‘Yes.’

All day, every day, for 10 years.

I took poorly paid work, unpaid work, even work that cost me in travel expenses. And in fairness, there’s a time and place for that in certain stages of business.

I managed to establish myself as a capable drummer in my locality and, eventually, the paid work started to come in.

But there was a problem: I was still saying ‘yes’ to the unpaid work. And I didn’t know how to stop.

It was a long road with many bumps, but I learned to say no. And the better I got at saying no, the less people asked me to do that unpaid work. It was as if they somehow sensed that I’d established my boundaries—and they didn’t even approach them! (This was true for family as well.)

These days, no one calls me for work that isn’t well-paid. And I let my family know when I’m free. If you follow the steps in this newsletter, things will be the same for you.

dg 💙

~

P.S. If you need help setting and maintaining your personal boundaries, click here to get my help.

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