Why Yes Equals No

Have you ever had to tell someone “no”? It’s never an enjoyable experience. You feel like you are letting someone down or disappointing them.

The reactions you receive from a “yes” and a “no” are just as opposite as your answer. When you say “yes” you become someone’s hero for the day. When you say “no” the sadness is just as visible as the “yes’s” excitement and gratitude. Seeing the look on your child’s face to a “no” requires nerves of steel to hold the line.

I think for most people their default is “yes” because they want to be helpful. “No” sounds negative and unfriendly. But what if by defaulting to “yes” it forces us to say “no” to the important things in life? What if it makes us say “no” to things we would never intentional say “no” to?

Every “yes” you make guarantees a future “no”.

Every “yes” automatically creates a “no”.

It’s impossible for our answer to always be “yes” even though we want it to be.

Let me explain…

Think about your money. When you say “yes” to an expense it guarantees you will have to say a “no” in the future. A “yes” to a new car payment means you’ll have to say “no” to other expenses because those resources are now tied up for the next 5 years. A “yes” to a travel sport for many families often means a “no” to a vacation. Some people don’t realize they are even saying “no” to retirement because of all the “yeses” they are currently making. No matter how much you make there is a limit to your “yeses” because your income isn’t limitless.

Think about your time. You can’t be in two places at once. So when you agree to go out for dinner with some friends it means you have to say “no” to everything else that you would want to do in that same time period. That’s not a bad thing, it just a reality of saying “yes”.

Every “yes” you make guarantees you will have to say a “no” in the future.

The challenge is to make sure you say “yes” to the big things first. When people get resentful or in trouble relationally or financially it’s usually because they don’t have a good grasp on what the big things are.

What would you say are the big things when it comes to money?

A budget will help you say “yes” to the big things first. Do you have a budget? If you find that you are always running out of money each month it’s a good sign you have too many “yeses”.

Rarely does one “yes” sink your finances. It’s a cumulation of many…cable tv, eating out, random shopping, extracurricular activities, a pet, travel sports, vehicles, boat, camper, etc. When you say “yes” to a budget it will make it easier to identify what to say “no” to. The “no” won’t feel as negative because you recognize you’ve said “yes” to all of the things most important to you first.

What would you say are the big things when it comes to your time?

The best way to say “yes” to your big things is to put them in your calendar. Have you ever thought about how many nights out are too many nights? How many family meals are too few?

People probably won’t ask you for money, but they will ask you for your time. The interesting thing is it’s easier for us to say “yes” to our time than our money. But your time is more valuable than your money. You only have so much time. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time, especially when your kids are younger.

As long as you keep saying “yes,” people will keep asking. It’s not because they want to use and abuse you. They have no idea what your schedule is like and they are trusting that you are managing your time responsibly.

When we say “yes” too often we start to blame and resent the asker. But they had no idea how many other “yeses” we made. They didn’t have access to our calendar, we did.

I’ve found it helpful to put the big things in my calendar first and then I schedule several spaces in my calendar that are my “yes” spaces. When someone asks if they can meet or if a friend needs help I have specific blocks already set aside that allows me to say “yes”. By budgeting my time I find that I can say “yes” more not less.

What if most of your stress right now is because your well-intentioned “yeses” are crashing into the natural limits of your time and income?

We have a way of portraying our decisions in the best light possible so let me give you a couple of scenarios as proof you are saying “yes” too much…

If you have more on credit cards than you make every month it’s proof
If you haven’t been saving at least 10% every month towards retirement it’s proof
If you only have family dinner one time a week it’s proof
If you only make it to church once a month it’s proof

Your life and your stress comes down to simple “yeses” and “nos”. We can think life comes down to luck, divine favor, or being in the right place at the right time, but when it comes to the big things it really isn’t about fortune it’s about simple “yes” and “no” choices we make every day.

The good news is we get to choose. The power is in our hands. If you are stressed out and strapped financially go back and review your “yeses”. Pick the right “yeses” and you won’t regret what you have to say “no” to in the future.