The Importance of No
We’re constantly being told to ‘say yes more’ and to embrace every opportunity that life throws at us. In fact, there is even a popular book and a popular film called Yes Man which is all about saying yes to things and living life more fully as a result.
And this is a very nice idea in theory. In practice though? It’s actually commonly counterproductive and can even end up being destructive!
The Problem With Always Saying Yes
In books like Yes Man, the main character finds himself accepting all kinds of exciting opportunities; going on adventures, meeting new people and learning new skills. That would be nice – but in reality it’s often not how these things pan out. Instead, we find ourselves saying yes more often and ultimately that just means that we go to the pub more and we go on every stag party/hen do.
The result? We get very tired, we spend lots of money and we have less time to spend doing the things we love.
The Power of No
This is where saying ‘no’ comes in. The problem is that saying ‘yes’ to one thing, ultimately is the same as saying ‘no’ to another. Saying ‘yes’ actually limits your options more than saying no!
When you say yes to a night out for instance, you are actually saying no to a night in – and to a different night out. When you say ‘yes’ to helping someone move, you actually say ‘no’ to working out that evening, or spending time on your new side business.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that this is all really easy. The problem is that many of us feel compelled to say yes to people and as though we’re letting our friends down if we say no. This is a point of view that needs to change though.
While there are some situations where saying yes is the kind and helpful thing to do, we are in no way obligated to always say yes. What’s more, is that we shouldn’t find ourselves feeling guilty for saying no.
The secret is simply to make sure that you know what your priorities are and that you have a reason to say no. In other words, don’t say ‘no’ and then just watch TV – say ‘no’ and then use the time the way you want to.
And there’s a balance to be struck here too. The simple solution? Treat your solo activities with the respect they deserve. Book them into your calendar and then treat them like any other indelible appointment!