say no and yes

Saying No Before Yes

I am not immune to the power of words. No matter how many times I’ve strung words together to create stories, even emails, I take pause. I respect their power, the way they stab you in the heart in the best possible way.

How could I better say no to the noise to better say yes to the adventures I craved?”

I came across this question last night and I was floored. Sometimes timing is just so spot-on when you read what someone else wrote. And it’s as if that person is speaking right through the page.

This question was one of several Tim Ferriss asked himself when he reached a fork in life’s unpredictable road. Perhaps it resonates with you or it doesn’t do anything for you at all. Right now, it neatly encapsulates my life.

I discovered Tim’s question in the intro of Tribe of Mentors, a beast of a book that is about the size of my antique Webster’s dictionary. In a way, Tribe of Mentors is a dictionary—one that defines life through a series of questions with over a hundred fascinating minds.

How could I better say no to the noise to better say yes to the adventures I craved?”

What I appreciate about this probing question is that it is one my younger self would never have asked. I used to separate saying “no” and saying “yes,” never grasping that they were inextricably linked.

I consciously worked on saying no, something that has always been difficult—as it is for a lot of us. Saying no is unacceptable in our society. As children, you must do what you are told.

The times I said no in elementary school, I got “in trouble.” I landed in the principal’s office fairly frequently and succumbed to the torture of writing standards…

I will respect my teacher.
I will respect my teacher.
I will respect my teacher.

When you’re a kid, you think it’s all gonna change when you grow up. But, it doesn’t. You must do what you are told at work. If you say no, you’re not a team player. It might hinder you from a promotion or accelerate your severance check.

Saying yes isn’t any easier. And when you do, you are volunteering your time and energy…come what may.

There is just as much pressure to say yes. You don’t want to miss out, do you? You must say yes to an opportunity or it will pass you by. But, what if it wasn’t an opportunity? What if it wasn’t worthy of your time and energy—your yes?

How could I better say no to the noise to better say yes to the adventures I craved?”

That brings me to the inextricable link between no and yes. Notice how I didn’t say “yes and no?” Even when we speak, yes comes before no for some strange reason. I noticed it was reversed in Tim’s question. Interesting…

Six weeks ago, I started saying no to alcohol.

Alcohol was the loudest noise in my life. It muffled and overpowered too many things I wanted to hear clearly. It kept me from going on the adventures I craved. Now I can say yes to these unexplored adventures, because I already said no to my loudest noise.

What is your loudest noise? What are your unexplored adventures? Figure that out and you’ll know when it’s time to say no—so you have the time to say yes to the adventures that have been waiting for you to get up off your ass.

9 thoughts on “Saying No Before Yes

  1. “You must do what you are told at work. If you say no, you’re not a team player.” Great post, Britt. Very thoughtful and very timely for me. My day job is the biggest “noise” in my life that I will eventually say no to, once I feel more financially secure. The next biggest noise is alcohol. I do love having wine with my dinner but as I’ve gotten older, I’m more physically sensitive to its effects. Kudos to you for abstaining. I’m rather hoping I can just cut back but old habits die hard. It’s also a form of self-medication since I’m unhappy with my day job. But I am aware, I keep a diary. Awareness is key. Anyway, thank you for this post. You’ve inspired me 🙂

    1. Wow, Marie. I can relate to so much you are saying here as I left my day job officially in August of 2017. So, two years ago…goodness!

      During that year, before I finally made the decision to consult full-time, I took multiple alcohol breaks to clear my head and focus on my goals. Alcohol breaks helped me understand that I was on the right path. Those breaks also gave me the energy to make things happen—and get over my fears.

      My husband encouraged me to watch this Tim Ferriss fear-setting TED Talk when I was stuck in my cycle of fear (before leaving my job). I’ll pass it along to you in case it helps… https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_ferriss_why_you_should_define_your_fears_instead_of_your_goals?language=en

      1. Clearing my head is definitely something I need to do, but, you know, a clear head is sometimes scary. But the energy that comes with those breaks can outweigh the fears. Thanks for the link!

  2. Busyness is my biggest noise lately. I am trying to carve out more mindful, present time for myself instead. It down lows the craziness, stress and anxiety for sure for me. Great Post – quite the thinker! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

    1. Busyness is a noise problem for so many of us. Saturdays are always a struggle, because I’m still holding onto productivity mode from the week…yet I know I need to relax. I find that a device-free day on the weekend really helps me.

      Hope you’re enjoying a quiet, unhurried weekend.

    1. Oh, absolutely! Mr. H was a smoker for about 15 years. I was by his side through his quitting journey and I witnessed how difficult it was. It was a life-changing experience for him, being able to take control of life again.

      So happy for you, Andrea.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, it’s a great reminder that small changes in daily habits can have a profound effect on our lives. I think it’s really healthy to take breaks from things periodically, if nothing else than to ensure we still really want them in our lives.

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