Every YES is a NO to Something Else

saying yes, saying noDo you have trouble saying no? How about trouble saying yes? I just read The Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes, creator of Gray’s Anatomy and Scandal, among other popular TV shows. I found it to be both entertaining and inspiring. The basic story is that Shonda realized she was saying NO to most invitations and opportunities that came her way, and missing out on a lot that life has to offer. So, she started saying YES, which, as with many worthwhile endeavors, is easier said than done.

Every YES is a NO to something else. Click To Tweet

What I found intriguing, though, was how often she turned it around. She did, totally, get out of her rut by saying YES to scary things like appearing on TV and giving speeches. She’s a writer, after all, not an actor. But there were also times where she still wanted to say NO and asked herself, “How can I turn this into a YES?” So, for example, by saying NO to a “friend’s” unreasonable request for a large sum of money, she was also saying YES to herself and her own well-being.

Clearly, it’s unwise to always say YES. Or to always say NO.

Which reminded me:

Every YES is a NO to something else.

I don’t know who said that first. Probably not me, although I say it to my clients all the time. And I’ve written it before, too, in a couple of previous blog posts:

Just Say No…Here’s How and Why

Living and Working by Design, not by Default

For example, if you say YES to a volunteer job, or other time-consuming activity, you are also saying NO to time spent with your family, working for profit, relaxing, or pursing your own personal goals.

That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be worthwhile, though. Just something to consider.

So, how do you know whether to say YES, or NO?

Say YES when the request…

  • …supports your goals and priorities.
  • …fits into your Ideal Schedule.
  • …makes you feel fear — the type of fear that is really, when you think about it, just excitement, and indicative of a growth opportunity.

Say NO when the request…

  • …is unreasonable.
  • …throws your Ideal Schedule out of balance for longer than short-term.
  • …makes you feel fear — the type of fear that means something is dangerous, or not in your best interest.

What about you?

Do you have trouble saying YES to “scary” opportunities?

When you say YES, do you also think about what you’re saying NO to?

Share with us in the comments below!

Copyright 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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  1. Janet Barclay on March 20, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    I don’t usually say NO to scary opportunities, because I often find that once I get into whatever it is, it’s not as scary as it seemed!

    • Hazel Thornton on March 24, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      It’s true, I know, huh? But sometimes it’s hard to remember!

  2. Linda Samuels on March 20, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    I go through periods of “yes” and periods of “no.” It’s interesting that they often follow one another. If I’ve over-yesed, which in turn means over-doing, then I need a period of more mindful selecting…and more saying, “no.”

    In both periods, there can still be growth and learning. It’s just that the balance of free, unscheduled time shifts quite a bit.

    My Dad was a big believer in saying, “yes” to opportunities…scary or not. He always encouraged me to “Go for it!” And during my braver moments (even if feeling unsure,) I have.

    • Hazel Thornton on March 24, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      You’re reminding me of the see-saw analogy of life balance, which some belittle because nothing can be perfectly balanced. But I like it. Who ever said anything about perfectly static balance? I think swinging back and forth a little is just fine as long as you don’t hit bottom on either side.

  3. Seana Turner on March 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    I love this point that a yes to something is a no to something else. Time is a zero sum game, only maximized through productivity. I can’t say I actually have made a conscious decision to say yes to one thing while saying no to another. You’ve got me thinking on that. I often say “yes” to scary things because it makes me do them!

    • Hazel Thornton on March 24, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      “Time is a zero sum game”….I like that! And I’m glad I got you thinking. Thanks for commenting, Seana!

  4. Sarah Soboleski on March 20, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    I’m usually pretty good with boundaries regarding my time. I think having kids helps with that, but I need to come up with some better no phrases. I should work on a list of stock responses to have at the ready.

    • Hazel Thornton on March 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm

      I think it’s a great idea to be prepared with some responses that work for you! Take a look at my blog post “Just Say No…Here’s How and Why” for some ideas and let me know if you think any of them would work for you.

  5. Diane Quintana on March 21, 2017 at 8:08 am

    I’ve learned how to say ‘no’. I used to feel very guilty saying ‘no’. I now understand that saying ‘yes’ to things I really don’t want to do is a disservice to myself and the people asking me to do something.

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