The Incidental No


I’ve gotten a lot better at saying no in the last couple of years. It’s easy now to say no to things that I’m not that good at, are not an efficient use of my time, or that become a source of frustration.

But there are some other things that are still hard to say no to. These are the things that I’m good at. The things that are in my area of expertise  that I could almost do with my eyes closed. People tend to expect these things of me.

But I can’t say yes to all of these things. Because there is only room for a certain number of yeses, and a misguided yes could cause a default no that I  don’t really want to see happen.

If you add a new yes without creating space for it with a new no, you will end up with what I’ll call an incidental no that you probably won’t like.

By not making choices carefully, the things you cut out of your life will likely be the last things you would have chosen. Here are some of the things that I want to always be a yes, but end up being an incidental no when I’m overbooked.

  • Being fully present for at least some time daily with the members of my family.
  • Having enough patience for my family.
  • Regular alone-time with Jesus.
  • Feeling good about myself at the end of the day.

Make sure you don’t just choose your yeses, but also choose your noes. Otherwise they will choose themselves, and nobody wants that.


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