Yes Yes Yes No No No

When is an idea or decision worth saying yes to? I can think of 6 ways a decision can go:

1. Yes—I would love to do this.

For the majority of the time, these are the easiest decisions to say yes to. These are the decision’s we should say yes too, but there are quite a few situations that often make saying yes to what we love extremely difficult.

The first reason is bad timing, luck or lack of self-awareness — which I’ll discuss as #4.
The second reason being fear—which I’ll discuss as #5.

2. Yes — but you want to say no.

There are our most innocent and humbling decisions. Whether out of love, force, pity or magic, we agree, but would rather say no. As innocent as they appear, these types of decisions can quickly take over our entire lives. This the number one regret of the dying, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” It’s great to help others, but if you are only living your life by the expectations of what others want for you, you aren’t making decisions for yourself or living at all.

Sometimes we say yes, but don’t know we should have said no. This is tricky because now we’ve said yes and are beholden to that choice. If there’s an opportunity to get out of it, do it. There’s no sense wasting our time on something we clearly don’t want to do. But if you’ve backed a yes with your word and reputation, see it through. We never want to waste our time, but we also want to make sure our actions also align with our words.

There’s a version of this type of yes that I’ve personally experienced. (Well, I’ve experience all 6 of these types of decisions, but this one was a real doozie.) Sometimes when you say yes, but you don’t want to (or you eventually figure out you don’t) AND then you keep doing it anyway—out of fear or obligation etc.—then you are on a short unfortunate path to burnout. There are many flavors of burnout, but one of the surest ways to burn yourself out is to continuously do something you don’t want to do.

Eventually you hit a wall and you’re body forces you to stop. That’s what happened to me anyway. My body’s response was—“Oh, I see. You’re going to keep working at this even though you know we don’t want to? The Nerve of this guy. He think’s he’s the boss. We’ll show him whose the real boss around hear.” Don’t let yourself be steamrolled by a decision you don’t even like doing.

3. Yes — but your future self won’t.

These’s are also painful decisions, usually based around an event, agreement or project in the future. It sounds so lovely (and distant), but when the moment arrives you completely dread it to your core. Ugh! Why did I agree to this?!

The key is asking yourself what your future self would want to do. “If this thing (that I’m about to agree to) was tomorrow, would I still want to do it?

It’s great to plan for the future, but keep decision locked in the immediate.

4. No — but you want to say yes.

In essence, you wish you could say yes, but the timing isn’t right or you’ve already committed and said yes to another earlier opportunity. Decisions like these aren’t worth your time dwelling over. Stick with what’s in front of you, and keep learning about yourself and your dreams. The better we know ourselves, the more accurate we can be in our decision making.

5. No — not right now.

This is a slight variation of the last decision (#4) and again comes down to timing. There’s only so many things we can say yes too. There’s only so much time to go around. If the timing isn’t right, it’s better to say No—not right now. And try to revisit it later.

For me, there’s a million-billion things I want to learn and experiment on, but if I tried doing them all at the same time, I’d make no progress on anything (and likely go insane). This idea is often called your “not right now list”. A list of things you want to do or see, but right now you are prioritizing other things instead.

6. No — I’d rather get dirt.

Knowing when to say no might be the hardest decision of them all. But saying no is also the most exhilarating and uplifting decisions we can make. It’s easy to say yes. It’s easy to say yes to things we want to do AND don’t want to do. But it takes training and discipline to say no.

No free’s up our time.

No gives us room to think, dream and play.

No opens up more opportunities.

In a backwards, up is down, left is right sort of way, by pursuing less, we end up gaining more.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #875

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Related:

No “yes.” Either “HELL YEAH!” or “no.” | Derek Sivers

8 Ways to Say No Without Hurting Your Image | Adam Grant

Don’t Bet on a Maybe

“Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood by haste and uncertainty.”

Tacitus

The biggest regrets I have were when I didn’t go with my gut (or didn’t take the time to even listen to my gut) and instead backed an answer on a ‘maybe’. Here’s another way of putting it, I let other people’s opinions and desires outweigh my own. I backed their truth instead of trusting my own truth.

Perhaps you can related to this as well, because you’ve dealt with it outcome the hard way too.

There are so many important decisions we face in life:

  • Should I take this job? …. hmm I’m not sure, the pay is good…
  • Should I go to this school or that school? (should I go to school at all??) … I want to go to this one, but everyone else is telling me to go to that one…
  • Hey bro, do you want to invest in X Y Z? … it sounds like a great idea, but it’s not really what I’m passionate about…
  • Is this the person I want to be with for the rest of my life?
  • Is this the person I want to be for the rest of my life?

When it comes to making decisions, big or small, never bet your future on a maybe.

There’s a massive difference between “I don’t know” and “I’m not sure”.

“I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. It shows that there’s still some more time you need to carve out for yourself to think about the question you are answering.

But If you are not sure, then you are hesitating. Hesitation is another form of ‘maybe’.

Hesitation usually is a sign that you are sure, you know you should say yes (or you know you should say no) but for whatever reason, we over think it and confuse ourselves into making the wrong call.

The problem is, t’s easy for a ‘maybe’ to default into a ‘yes’. But I think it should be the other way around.

I think any type of hesitation or uncertainty around a decision should default to a ‘no’. Particularly if your gut is say ‘no’ and your head is saying ‘yes’.

If someone asks you to make a moment’s notice decision and you are not sure, then just say no. Maybe it’s a bad call. Maybe you’ll miss out on an opportunity. But a possible opportunity you are uncertain about is never worth give your valuable resources to (your time and energy). As they say, opportunities are a dime a dozen. If you miss out on one, another will come soon enough. Hell, we can even create our own opportunity instead!

Life is uncertain, don’t let your decisions be uncertain too.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #690


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Smarty Pants – 4 – yes, no, or not right now

Being Brilliant is knowing when to say yes, no, or not right now+

I can’t tell you what you should say yes, no, or not right now to.
I can’t tell you because the answer is tailored to you.
Your answer depends on who you are, and who you want to be.
Your answer is up to you to decide, not me.

Others can give you advice (and is a smart thing to ask for), but you have to make the call.

I can’t tell you to take the job, or date the hottie, or make the purchase. I can give you advice, but it’s up to you to whether to take it or not.

This is about making decisions – BIG or small – branches in your path of life.

Unless you can see into the future, you’re not going to know if it’s the right decision until way later. Hindsight’s 20/20.

However, I can tell you what not to do. 
Don’t make indecision your answer. Don’t say maybe, or whatever, or I don’t care.

Remove Maybe and Whatever from your vocabulary.

If a yes and a no had a baby, it would be a maybe. 
A maybe is letting someone else make the decision for you. They’re pushing who they are – good or bad – onto who you are.

Indecision is the answer you don’t want

because it takes you away from the path you want (even if you are unsure of where that may be)

I made a bad decision of picking where I went to college. I didn’t know what I wanted so I let someone else choose for me.
Good or bad (honestly both), I am where I am because of that.

Even if you’re not sure what you should do, a yes or a no will get you somewhere else, whether that’s somewhere important is determined by if you listen to your true self or not.

For every decision, you must make, remember to pause and respond with yes, no, or not right now.

#KeepPursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?

related wisdom

“Maybe! Maybe! Maybe if your aunt had a beard, she’d be your uncle.” — Alvah Bessie

 

“A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.” — Grantland Rice

 

“Saying ‘yes’ to one thing means saying ‘no’ to another. That’s why decisions can be hard sometimes.” — Sean Covey

 

“Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the furthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness: a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say ‘no.’ But saying ‘yes’ begins things. Saying ‘yes’ is how things grow.  — Stephen Colbert