Posted on September 19th, 2011
You only need one good reason to commit to an idea, not four hundred. But if you have four hundred reasons to say yes and one reason to say no, the answer is probably no.
— Twyla Tharp
When we say no to the things we want, we are often saying yes to the things we already have. Conversely, in saying yes to things we want, we are saying, in this same action, that what we have is not enough.
Saying no to commitments that we make beyond our available time is saying yes to performing well the current commitments we have the time for. Being overcommitted or taking on too many tasks will degrade your ability to do them all well. Saying no to some will allow you to devote that much more time, energy, and quality to the rest.
Saying no to clutter is saying yes to organization. If clutter is something that we are not comfortable with, yet do nothing about it, then we are in large part saying yes to it and no to its resolution.
Saying no to Twitter and Facebook is, in some ways, saying yes to email, telephone, face-to-face, and other forms of social communication. Disconnection is actually connecting to different things. Sometimes it is also saying yes to being present, enjoying what is around us, being comfortable with silence and, dare I say, boredom. Saying yes to social networking is often revealing the choice for ambient stimulation, outside gratification, extroversion, and the fear of missing out.
I think saying no is far too often misunderstood and misrepresented. I think it automatically puts one on the defensive, as if we must explain our reasons why. While its very definition may be negative, in practice it is often quite positive. I think we need to remove the wholly negative stigma from the idea of saying no. I think we need to return to a definitive support of the positive choice that saying no can bring.
Also, be open to hearing no from others. Recognize that they too may actually be freeing themselves to take other paths and directions. This freedom, in turn, extends to you. If you are a salesperson, someone saying no to what you are selling actually allows you the opportunity to move on and sell to someone who will say yes. The more time you spend trying to change the negative, the less you will open yourself up to opportunity for the positive.
In fact, when it comes to parting with your time, attention, or money, no should be your default answer. You can always work your way to maybe and, in rarer cases, to yes from there.
If you follow this rule, the things you do say yes to will be the things you are most excited about. You will be free to give these things much more time and energy because the yes things will be the things that really matter. You will pour your heart and soul into these things because they are so precious and few and the rewards will be that much greater for doing so.