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When you say yes, what are you having to say no to?

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

If you say yes to others make sure you are not saying no to yourself

I came across a Paul Coelho quote a few days ago that says:

"When you say 'yes' to others, make sure you are not saying 'no' to yourself"

This is such a great reminder that saying yes to what others' value doesn't have to mean that you say no to what you value. It just requires that you stay conscious and aware of what is important to you and look for ways to ensure that you are not compromising yourself.

It also requires that sometimes, perhaps you do actually have to say no.

I have found a very good way to remain true to myself and conscious of what's important to me, is to ask myself these two questions when I feel like I might be undermining myself.

If I say YES to "this", what am I saying NO to?

If I say NO to this, what am I freeing myself up to say YES to?

If the answer in both instances is "nothing", well then I have no problem.

However if the answer to question 1 is that I am saying no to myself, to my values, to my priorities, to my goals, well then I know I need to consider the next question and see if by saying NO to the task, I may help myself to say yes to what is important to me.

So a quick example of this for me is that I recently was asked to do some work which would have been quite lucrative for me. A big plus!!

But it would have:

  • required me to tie myself up for a few weeks in work that I don't find particularly fulfilling,

  • would have taken my time and energy away from the business that I am developing, and

  • would have required me to be away from home for a few weeks, at a time when I really just want to be nesting.

I almost reflexively said yes to the work because the income would have been great, but something about it just niggled.... and when I asked myself the two questions, it was clear to me: my priority was to reserve my time to work on my business - to build my business in a way that feels truly meaningful to me, allows me to have the lifestyle I want, and gives me time to be creative and fulfilled at home.

I will have plenty of time to work in my business and earn money in the next few months, but I won't have this time again to work on my website, my marketing plan, having conversations with influencers, developing training materials and doing the leg work required to set myself up for success.

In this instance, saying yes to the opportunity would have meant saying no to myself and to developing my business.

So think about this:

Every time you say yes to something, what are you having to say no to?

What do you need to say no to, so that you can say yes to your priorities?


I love conversations and would love to engage with you on your career and how you are managing yourself and your career like a business.

I believe "managing your career like a business" means having insight on where you want to go in your career, the agility and resilience to change track when necessary, competence to navigate transition points, and self-awareness to manage yourself.

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