Words are extremely powerful. They are how we communicate as human beings and they play a major part in how we express ourselves.

However, there are two simple words in particular which will define your life more than any others, they are ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

It really matters what you say yes to and what you say no to because our lives are actually a culmination of our yes and no’s.

  1. No one will say your yes or no for you

Being an adult is awesome and scary at the same time.

It’s awesome because you have more independence and you get to make your own decisions.

It’s scary because you have more independence and you have to make your own decisions!

No one will say your yes or no for you, how you live your life is up to you. It’s your responsibility. No one else can decide for you.

You decide what you say yes and no to, you decide how to spend your time, and who you spend time with. Parents (hopefully) don’t tell you any more what food to eat, what time to go to bed or how to make all your decisions. It’s time for all of us to adult.

  1. It’s about the little decisions

The little decisions in life matter more than we know.

Mark Batterson tweeted “Show me your habits, I’ll show you your future.” So true.

Life is lived one day at a time. It’s inbuilt in us that we are creatures of habit and routine, whether we realise it or not. The more constant we can be with good habits then the more we grow into the person we want to be. Jesus encouraged us to be consistent, He said “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’”

The more you say yes to something the easier it is to say yes next time.

We see this happen more drastically when we say yes to the wrong things. You don’t have to go far to see the latest scandal by a politician or a celebrity.

We are shocked that our leaders and heroes could be so fallible. But if you had an insight into their private lives I reckon you wouldn’t be surprised, there is always a trajectory of little concessions that lead to the bigger compromise. An affair doesn’t suddenly happen in a healthy marriage. There are issues beforehand, there’s breakdown in communication, maybe there was a porn addiction, maybe there was flirting with co-workers.

Compromise happens in the small decisions that then snowball until it’s something out of control. In reality control had been lost in the small decisions.

The little things will become the big things.

Perhaps the biggest decisions of our lives are the little decisions we make every day.

  1. Know your values priorities and decide accordingly

To decide what we say yes to and what we say no to we must define our goals and vision.

For example, when the goal is to lose weight then you must say yes to exercise and no to unhealthy foods, consistently. If you know your values and your priorities then they will serve as guidelines for making decisions.

If an athlete’s aim to win the gold medal at the next Olympics, they’re going to say yes to a training regime each day, yes to sleep, yes to healthy and nutritional food. They’re going to say no to late nights out and takeaways. It requires discipline to say the yes and the no’s, but it’s not discipline for the sake of discipline, it’s for a higher purpose.

If you are to say yes to something, then count the cost, it probably means saying no to something else. After all, even though we might try to, we can’t do everything can we?

We have to choose yes or no to the right things because we can’t succeed by accident.

Where to begin?

Like me, you’d probably like to change a lot of things in your life but before we get overwhelmed and try and tackle everything let’s start with one thing. Choose one thing to say yes to and one thing to say no to.

First, what’s one thing that you want to start this year?

Maybe it’s habit to start, an attitude to form or something different to try.

Toward the end of 2018 I noticed that a lot of my thinking was negative, I’d started to believe and assume the worst about situations or people. I was becoming cynical. Cynicism is not a good look on anyone so I decided to aim toward becoming a more grateful and hopeful person.

In an endeavour to do this, I’ve started to write down 3 things every day that I’m thankful for. This hasn’t cured me yet of slipping into cynical thinking but I’m now more aware of my attitudes and, hopefully, growing my gratitude levels.

This is a habit that’s manageable and one that I can say yes to which will shape a change in my attitudes.

Decide one thing you can start saying yes to that will enhance your life.

And second, what’s one thing that you want to stop this year? What can you say no to?

You can’t say yes to everything, we have limited capacity. Maybe you need to start saying no to saying yes to everything! Or there’s an unhealthy habit to stop or an attitude to change.

Journalist Josh Billings once said “Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough”. Wisdom indeed.

I find it harder saying no. I’d much rather say yes to things.

I wanted to put this into practice this year saying no to something that I wasn’t finding life-giving.

It may be completely shocking but I’m saying no to Netflix. I’ve not watched any Netflix in 2019!! Will this be forever? Probably not. But for now I want to spend my time engaging my mind rather than zoning out in front of my laptop and binging each new series that comes out. I want to use my time better, to be productive and life-giving. I have that goal, therefore I need to start saying no.

The change in your life may not be immediate but you will never regret saying yes to the right things each day and no to the others. It’s so worth it. Start today.

I’ve learnt a lot from others around this subject, thanks to the following:

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

6 steps to your best year of leadership by Craig Groeschel

Thank you so much for reading, if you found this encouraging and helpful please share it with friends and followers. I’d love to hear from you, what are you going to start saying yes to? What are you going to start saying no to? Leave a comment! Dan 🙂