NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- 'Tis the season for making New Year's resolutions. Do you struggle, year in and year out, to fulfill your promises to yourself? Staying on top of your resolutions may be more a function of how and when you say "no" than of discipline or willpower.
Jim Camp, an expert on negotiating and author of "No: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home," offers seven ideas for getting what you want -- whether negotiating with people, handling finances, or tackling a difficult situation -- by saying "no" early and often.
1. Start with "No." Resist the urge to compromise. Remember that "no" is not an absolute rejection, but a decision that can be changed. Invite the person who said no to your proposal to explain his or her vision; it may open the door to an honest discussion that can eventually turn out in your favor.
2. Be in control. Do not dwell on gratuitous things you may want; focus instead on what you can control - your actions and behaviors. In the realm of personal finance, that could mean reducing payments on your debt and putting the remainder in your savings. "Say no to full payments," says Camp. "Taking care of your bills is important, but not at the expense of paying yourself first. Pay a third or a quarter of the bill and tuck the rest of the money away."
3. Do your research. Learn everything you can about a project before you begin work on it. This way, you will save time and prevent a minefield of surprises, whether you're dealing with the boss, a car dealer, or your teenager. The confidence that comes with knowing just what you are dealing with often translates into tangible success.
4. Face problems head-on. Identify the issues and bring them out into the open. Whether they are your own problems or somebody else's, acknowledging them gives you an edge.
5. Check your emotions. Practice self-control and let go of any expectations or judgments. Whatever you do, don't be needy.
6. Get them talking. Ask open-ended questions that begin with "what" and "how." Find out what the other person wants or needs, and show him how your proposal may actually benefit him.
7. Have a purpose and a vision to reflect it. Learn to present your ideas as solutions. By helping others see exactly what they will gain from your plan, you spark decision-making and action. "When you have a mission in place, decision-making really gets bolstered. It becomes so much easier to say no and so much clearer when to say yes."
By Marshall Loeb