“No” is part of your strategy for saying yes to what you want.

What goals do you want to accomplish this year?

No matter what they are, achieving your goals depends on your strategy. You’ve got to have the right plans and techniques … and for most of us, that means adding a lot of responsibilities into our life.

But taking on too much can overwhelm your brain and cause you to lose focus. That’s why I’m urging you to say no more in 2017.

Not sure where to start? I have some ideas.

Say no to procrastination

Most of us have a vision of who we are in our ideal lives—of what we should be doing and how we should be doing it. And most of us don’t get there for one simple reason: we put it off. There are many different tricks to defeating procrastination, but my favorite is switching your mindset. Instead of avoiding the steps you need to take to reach your goal, avoid procrastination.

To successfully reach a goal, you need to understand what drives you. Many of us don’t follow through on certain tasks because we aren’t clear about our motivation. To really learn, you must be motivated, and you must be open-minded.

So be proactive and take responsibility for your learning. Your life opens up when you step into that space between stimulus and response. In that space, there are infinite possibilities. By taking responsibility for your learning and your motivation, you have the power to make changes in your life for the better.

This means you can’t just talk about what you want because then it remains a dream. Learn what it will take to achieve your desires and schedule the action steps necessary to reach your goals on a calendar. Turn your dreams into plans.

Say no to negative self-talk

Did you know that talking negatively about yourself in the gym counteracts the great benefits you get from exercise? And the newest studies say that while pessimists are more accurate, optimists achieve a lot more. So pay attention to the automatic negative thoughts that invade your head. And listen to your inner cheerleader instead of your inner critic.

Say no to overcommitting

In the modern world, every one of us has many different responsibilities—whether you’re a spouse or a parent or working and juggling other commitments. The key to taking care of yourself and achieving your goals is deciding what is essential—and what is not. Say no to good, so you can say yes to great.

I do this in two major ways. Most people have a to-do list with hundreds of things on it. I also have a not-to-do list.

One of the most important items on this list is not to check email or social media during the first few hours of the day. Many of the world’s most successful people avoid checking email first thing because an email inbox is nothing more than a convenient way to organize other people’s demands. When you start your day replying to emails, you are automatically starting your day as a responsive victim instead of someone who’s proactively designing your life. Plus, avoiding dopamine hits from likes, comments and shares in the morning allows me to save my mental energy for when I need it to focus on important work later in the day. I have the energy to make the right decisions to move my mission forward.

The other way I say no to overcommitting is by focusing on my magic six. When I wake up in the morning, I pick three things I need to do to thrive professionally and three things I must do for my personal life. It’s very manageable, and as long as I get those six done, I feel accomplished.

Don’t feel guilty for focusing on these personal tasks. Nurturing and taking care of ourselves is a personal and public display that we are valuable. A lot of our net worth is correlative to our self-worth. So when you schedule time for yourself, like a morning workout, it’s crucial to treat that time the same as you would treat a meeting with your boss or your top client. Don’t cancel on yourself.

Choose when to say yes

Once you’ve figured out what to say no to, now you must decide when to say yes. Say yes to what you need for a great brain and a great life: a good environment, a positive peer group, exercise, brain nutrients, sleep, brain protection, continued learning, and stress management. It’s all about adding what works and forgetting the rest.

Whatever you say yes to, make sure it’s something that touches your heart. I only say yes to the things that motivate me and ignite my passion. Everything is either “Heck, yes,” or “Heck, no.” This way, I save my resources for the things that matter most.

Not sure how to start creating a better brain? For 24Hour Life readers, we have a free four-part memory program dedicated to supercharging your learning so you can take control of both your professional life and personal life May your days be full of life, love, and always a lot of learning! Visit jimkwik.com/24life.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock, Adiano