Embracing Your YES and Your NO: A Valuable Life Lesson

As a freelance writer, it can be tempting to say YES to any and all work that comes your way; because it’s money. Right?

But at what point do our personal needs and values trump the dollar sign?

I recently quit working for a client that I’d been serving for over a year. Changes in their organization had caused changes in my working relationship with them. To keep the explanation simple, writing for them just wasn’t fun or interesting for me anymore. I could keep going on with it for a while, but what would I be producing for them/for me, if my heart wasn’t in it anymore? I couldn’t say it was still the best use of my time. I realized, it was time to say no to the work.

image credit: Laura Frankstone “Kate”

Knowing when to say YES and/or NO isn’t something most of us develop until we are well into our adult lives. When we are small children, our parents don’t really encourage us to practice our YES’s and NO’s. Ask any parent and they will admit that what they really want from their children is compliance, an “as you wish” response. Consequently, we grow up with a limited sense of when to say YES vs. NO, and we aren’t always aware when we don’t know the difference.

Sometimes, we go through life saying yes, when we really want to say no. We do this to not disappoint people, and to keep up our image of being the “good” guy. We want to be liked and believe that saying “yes” will help us earn that. But it doesn’t.

Sometimes we go through life saying no, when we really want to say yes. We say no out of fear that saying yes will require something from us that we don’t have. We say no because we don’t want to risk being wrong if we say yes to something (like a lifelong dream) that doesn’t’ work out. If you say no, you guarantee it won’t work out anyway.

Unfortunately, these two simple words hold more power over our lives than anything else. Most of us wander down paths of uncertainty, wondering why life doesn’t look like we want it to. Learning the difference between a real YES and a real NO is essential to finding your way out of this fog.

Using “yes” and “no” successfully depends on knowing yourself pretty well and developing a good sense of the kind of experiences you want to have in life and a strong belief that those are available to you. Because it can be easy to get caught up in a lot of thinking when it comes to decisions, I came up with some clear definitions for myself of when to use YES/NO. Having these as guideposts has helped a lot.

YES = Serves my higher purpose in life and affirms who I am.

NO = Interferes with my higher purpose and/or is in conflict with who I am.

Saying YES and/or NO is empowering when used to honor our beliefs and values. If we think of ourselves as being “ground control” for our lives, with a flag in each hand directing our experiences – a little to the right, a little to the left, our life will begin to line up with what we want. The misconception we need to resist is that saying “yes” or “no” will produce a drastic result or a huge crash. The results of our decisions are rarely as big as we make them out to be. If we are directing them towards what will make us happy and not what will please other people, we will always be able to handle the outcome. In fact, it will usually be quite easy.

Image credit: Thank you to Laura Frankstone for the use of her artwork, “Kate.”

Check out her other work at http://www.laurelines.com/




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