Has Your Yes Become a No?

A friend and I were chatting the other day about directions we were considering for our work, weighing the need to make money against our current desires, etc. We’re both feeling the urge to stretch and grow, but also a longing for peace and contentment. How the heck do you achieve such a balance?

At one point, we started talking about the concept of when a “yes” becomes a “no,” and when a “no” becomes a “yes.” There are projects I worked on successfully for years, for example, that I let slide during the pandemic. I could easily pick those up again. They are things I totally know how to do, so it wouldn’t be hard. But I don’t really want to. Somewhere along the line, for whatever reason, those projects that were once a strong yes for me are now a no.

I started down the path of trying to figure out what had changed, but that didn’t feel like the best use of my creative energy. The fact is, something has changed, and I’m no longer the person who wants to do those things.

There are so many reasons why we hold on to something that was once a yes but has become a no. It could be because we’re scared to change, it could be because we don’t want to let go of the money, it could be because we know we were good at something and it seems silly to walk away from something you’re good at. Maybe we simply miss the excitement we once felt for a project and believe if we tweaked it a bit, it would feel as good as it once did. Maybe we made a long-ago promise to ourselves or someone else that we would always do something, and we don’t want to break that promise. Maybe at one time we were convinced that endeavor was something we were “meant to do,” and we don’t want to fail at our life’s purpose.

Whatever the reason, it almost never works to try to convince yourself something is a yes when it has already become a no.

On the flip side, a no can also become a yes. How many times did my younger self say, “I will never . . .” and here I am years later doing whatever I swore I’d never do. I think a no often becomes a yes when we let go of fear. Maybe we said “no” too quickly because we were afraid we didn’t have the time, the skills, or the talent to do what was asked of us. Maybe we said no because we made a flip judgement about the project or person and assumed it would reflect poorly on us without bothering to learn more. Maybe we said no because we tried something similar in the past and it didn’t work, and we don’t want to get hurt again.

The funny thing about no is, it has two vibrations. The first is the “hell, no” vibration when you just know deep down this is not for you. The second is the “um, no” vibration that contains a certain hesitancy. That hesitation might be trying to tell you something. That said, even a “hell, no” could surprise you and become a yes in time, so stay open.

Since my conversation with my friend, weighing the yes against the no has become part of my decision-making process. As with so many other things, I’ve discovered deciding between yes and no is really about stepping into this moment and this current version of me. It’s an exercise in letting go of the past and moving toward whatever feels like my best future at this time. It’s not about compromising my values or principles, but it is about giving myself permission to change. It’s about asking myself if that yes still feels true to me today. If not, it’s a no.

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