Yes and No
Written By: Robb Stevens
When I was a teenager, my mom liked to quote Zig Ziglar who famously said: “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want at-the-moment.”
Whether it’s setting goals, establishing priorities, overcoming bad habits or developing good ones, this concept resonates. Every choice we make in life demands a trade-off, so if you say “yes” to something, it means saying “no” to something else or in some cases, to several things. That sounds a lot like Newton’s Third Law of Physics in everyday life: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
This trade-off reality is nothing new - there are plenty of big choices we make in life that inherently require us to walk away from other things great and small. Some of those pivot moments are life altering, even painful, but they can and hopefully will more often lead to progress and growth and greater happiness. For example:
If we say “yes” to getting married, we (hopefully) say “no” to dating other people.
Deciding to start a family drastically alters exclusive time spent together as husband and wife, where we live, what we drive and how we spend our money. If we say, “yes” to losing weight, we must then say “no” to over-indulgence in a favorite dessert and no to skipping consistent exercise (to say the least)!
A decision to go back to school, accept a promotion or take on a busier job means giving up family time, social time or even personal leisure time on nights and weekends.
A large ticket purchase like a boat, an RV or a vacation home means committing our leisure time to using those things and potentially giving up time spent doing other things we may enjoy.
Balance is incredibly important for both mental and physical health—yet is easier said than done with a busy life in our “always-on” world. Saying “yes” to living a well-balanced life definitely means saying no to anyone or anything that could detract from that sense of balance. We are (and should be) driven by values and priorities that are unique and important to us and to those that matter most in our lives.
With a limited number of hours in each day, we can’t and shouldn’t expect to “do it all.” It’s great to have high standards, but trying to be a superhuman by overextending ourselves at home, at work or in any walk of life we will ultimately breakdown and burnout.
Saying yes to everything is a sure way to actually say “maybe” to most things! With priorities in place though, it is much easier to say yes to the things that really matter and reflect what we need, want, who we are and what we believe in. In the management of precious time, we must be ever careful that the little things we say “yes” to don’t cause us to say “no” to more important things.
Making priority adjustments takes practice and discipline. If you are a driven person who wants to do-it-all, you may need to at times step back and ask yourself the question: “If I say YES, what am I saying NO to?” Doing so can help you maintain balance in an already busy life. While this may seem obvious, actually asking yourself the question can make you more conscious and mindful of your decisions.
The better we become at saying no to things that do not reflect our priorities, the richer, fuller, and more satisfying our lives will become.