We’ve come to love the word YES, and post it often as a reminder to embrace the opportunities that come along, and go with them.

But we realize that there is a very important other side to YES, and that is being able to say NO.

We’ve spent a good amount of our life learning how to set limits, say NO when something was too much or not what we wanted to be doing, even if we thought we SHOULD be doing it.

NO can be a mighty healthy, boundary-setting practice. We know a lot of people who don’t know how to say it, and then suddently reach the breaking point because saying YES has taxed them beyond their capacity.

Take it too far though and NO becomes limiting, knee-jerk limit-setting not necessarily based on where you are now. No can become a prison, especially if it is motivated by fear.

Dominic Wilcox
Dominic Wilcox

The trick is, to get them right. Balance is all.  N0 and YES need to live in the world together; they are tools for us to navigate possibilities.

Dominic Wilcox
Dominic Wilcox

We find a good way to qualify YES is the improviser’s practice of “Yes, and….”

We’ll use ourself as an example. Burned out from some serious life whammy’s of late—from a friend’s life-threatening illness, to another passing away, to our assistant leaving— we thought “We can’t write four posts a day. We’ve got to stop. We need help (Coming up with four original posts a day isn’t easy).”  We planned to take the last two weeks of August off, and just wanted to get through this week. We knew that if we really needed to stop, our generous readers would be game. But saying NO and going dark for three weeks seemed unseemly; after all, we are now charging for Improvised Life. Instead we said to ourselves. YES, we will do the daily posts AND we’ll do three posts per day rather than our usual four.

Tempering our YES with a qualifying NO took enough pressure off so we gained some steam to finish out the week, as it is now a pleasure to do.

YES found at Dominic Wilcox’s Flickr.

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3 replies on “To Be Able To Say Yes, You Need to Be Able To Say No

  1. Another thought: your daily posts give me a break in my day whether it’s going well or not, so I truly understand the need to “get away” for a while. Given that opinion, I’d be happy with 1 post a day while you’re taking a break, just enough to slow my head and to know that you’re still out there working on our behalf and that you’ll be back refreshed and raring to go. Thanks for all you do. I truly look forward to the e-mails and the shift in perspective that I usually get.

  2. That it so kind of you. I am constantly knocked out by the generosity and caringness of Improvised Life’s readers.

    Ultimately, I’m going to have to take some time completely off to recharge and regroup. There’s been a great deal of upheaval of late —including with my essential part-time assistant — and Improvised Life takes a lot of juice. I know the feeling of running on empty, even with cutting back posts and the lovely feedback/energy from readers. Taking time off gives much needed space and time away from a deadline…even though I am secretely always working on Improvised Life. It’ll give me some time too to finally get Fortune Cookies off the ground, and a new system in place.

    But if/when I do take two or three weeks off, I hope you’ll bear with AND know that I plan to extend subsriptions that much…always want to give good weight.

    Thanks a million for your kind and heartening words.

  3. Dear Sally,

    This is just what I needed to read today – thank you.

    p.s. take some time off!

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