Comfort Challenge #4: Revisit the Terrible Twos

If you try this comfort challenge, please share your experience in the comments below! I’d love to read them. It’s always a hilarious and valuable exploration of getting more comfortable with discomfort.

Note: Due to concerns about the coronavirus, we are skipping Comfort Challenge #3 (“Get Phone Numbers”), and we are going directly to Comfort Challenge #4 (“Revisit the Terrible Twos”).

Here is the original text of the challenge from The 4-Hour Workweek:

For the next two days, do as all good two-year-olds do and say “no” to all requests. Don’t be selective. Refuse to do all things that won’t get you immediately fired. Be selfish. The objective isn’t an outcome—in this case, eliminating just those things that waste time—but the process: getting comfortable with saying “no.” Potential questions to decline include the following:

Do you have a minute?

Want to see a movie tonight/tomorrow?

Can you help me with X?

“No” should be your default answer to all requests. Don’t make up elaborate lies or you’ll get called on them. A simple “I really can’t—sorry; I’ve got too much on my plate right now” will do as a catch-all response.

If you try this comfort challenge, please share your experience in the comments below! Id love to read them. Its always a hilarious and valuable exploration of getting more comfortable with discomfort.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

31 Replies to “Comfort Challenge #4: Revisit the Terrible Twos”

    1. I think this especially applies to work situations as long as it won’t get you fired. The goal is to become comfortable saying no to people who constantly add more to your plate. And learning to say no to a boss or colleagues sets boundaries and puts you on the path to freeing up more time.

  1. Instead of saying your sorry, just say “it’s not possible, or I can’t, thanks for understanding”. It is amazing how push back drops.

  2. I’m at work and took two plus minutes to watch this. As I unplugged and the screen was still up, my secretary asked, “Can I bother you for a second.” I turned and looked and said – “No.” I immediately went back to working. IF YOU COULD HAVE SEEN HER FACE! This is going to be an extremely difficult challenge. I will report back in after two days.

    1. Good to remember that many of us will be dealing with the people we’re saying “no” to long after this challenge is over. Although I’m all about the whole “shifting the monkey” trap of taking on others’ responsibilities, if someone asks if they can talk to me, I will more likely give them the same response I do now and ask if they can shoot me a text or email. Gives me a chance to decide if I can help or to decline with a brief, but kind, refusal. This is also easier on the asker who isn’t put off by the awkwardness of the short shrift.

  3. I get that we all need to say no sometimes. That we can over commit with yes. But, no is a negative and limiting response. Want to learn something new? No. Want to achieve something great? No. Saying yes, while perhaps opening too many doors, does give an open response to opportunity. Obviously, I am cool on the challenge. But. I will commit to being more intentional with my yes or no responses.

    1. Hi Tim,

      I am a fan of your podcasts , they are inspiring and very true!
      Right now I am in the middle of reading “4 hour workweek” , it has a great number of fascinating and incredible challenges!!
      Thank you for them , ‘cause they just remind me that everything is much more easier then we think!

      Today’s challenge is to contact a top person!

      I would like to contact you for just a few minutes, I promise it won’t take much time.
      I would like to ask you just one question as now I am in the process of writing my own book, the question is – how did you choose what stories from your life should be written in the book “4 hour workweek”?

      Thank you for advance for your time!

      1. Ehm. So.. the objective of this post is to say no to anything. And exactly THIS post is the one you choose to ask for something. Interesting.

    2. As a parent, this might be challenging to say no to my kids, too😆 But I can provide their basic needs and say no to the rest for a couple of days! Or say “no” to cuddles and cuddle anyway 😁

  4. Ways to say no:
    – I really can’t sorry
    – I have too much on my plate right now
    – I’ve made a lot of commitments, I’m over calendared
    – I’m trying to take on my current commitments before I take on anything new as a policy (policy’s make it harder for people to challenge)

    The goal here is to focus on the process for two days, not so much trying to find intricate amazing things to say no to. Just say no to as much as possible (including to the guy’s boss that someone mentioned below).

  5. I wish I’d seen this before I said “Yes” to hrape in Ayahuasca ceremony last Saturday…

    I can’t. Sorry. Too much in my bucket already.

  6. When I retired, I was overwhelmed with requests for my time and talents. I decided to say no to all requests for the first year. After a lifetime of working within the establishment, I wanted the luxury of being on a schedule that I controlled and determined. This is the advice I give to anyone I know who is retiring. Of course as a woman, mother, teacher, dog owner, etc, no was a easy word to come out of my mouth. In turn, I have also never accepted the word no, being told to me.
    No can be very empowering when you say it, but not so much when you hear it.

  7. I said NO to my trip to California so that said NO to my 1st Guided TRIP. I said NO to my trip next week to go see my amazing son in D. C. I’ve also said NO to all gatherings outside my house except for my daily walk in nature. It’s super easy to say NO because I’m immuno-compromised. I wish the rest of the world would give themselves permission to say NO right now for all non-essential contact with others. It would sure help curb the spread of #CORONAVIRUS

  8. Hi Tim, I’d love to offer you some rich feedback on this inspiring post and exercise, and to share my delighted experience of it, though (in spite of my No’s) my day is filled with other opportunities for connection. However, If you’d like to have me on the blog, I think we could make it a win for everyone involved. Please – do feel free to say No;)
    Joanna NicciTina Free

  9. I really like this challenge. Some years ago I starting practicing saying ‘No’ and feeling comfortable doing so but it is a nice opportunity to concentrate on this challenge during the next 2 days and see if I am really doing this 🙂

  10. I’ve mastered the art of saying no over my lifetime. My girlfriend asks me to deal with pushy store attendants when shopping because I feel nothing to say no and without explanation.

    In business and in all aspects of life I’m also completely comfortable saying no. When people ask why I simply say because I don’t want to or it doesn’t work for me. Don’t complicate your reasons I reckon.

    My friends don’t question me anymore when I say no. They realize there is nothing to it.

  11. Hello Mr.Ferris,

    my name is Kai i‘am 23 from germany. I write you on, twitter mails are to short. I am sorry.
    I read the TFHW multiple times and it confirmed my thinking about life.
    Long story short, all my ideas we’re implemented by people with more possibility’s. My question is, what could I do to find my muse? I’m depressed and very afraid about my future. I really don’t want to work in a regular job and spend all my life in dissatisfaction. I went back to school, just for getting permission to study in a university. I was thinking, this plan would generate time to spend it on self-realization.

    Thank you for being such an Idol. Please excuse my bad english, I hope you could understand my issue and respond me.

    Kai Koßert

  12. The author provided a clear roadmap and actionable steps in this blog article. It gave me a sense of direction on how to achieve my goals.

  13. Priortizing your task is an important thing we should be doing. A focused mind yeilds better results than the wondering mind doing all sorts of tasks.