Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Project “No”

There’s a “say yes” crowd on the Internet.

I think it has something to do with combating fear or battling inner demons or resisting negativity or something along those lines. I’ve seen personal projects around “24-hours of saying ‘yes’ to everything”. One dude ended up wearing a dress - in Mexico.

As a recovering yes-man, I oppose this philosophy.

Scarcity mindset says “yes” to everything.

It has to. I might miss something. There could be an opportunity to fill my perceived gap. I have to squirrel away a little more. I can’t miss out on some unknown, ill-defined opportunity, however small and insignificant that opportunity might be.

“Yes” is thrilling. It’s a rush. A dopamine hit, making people happy. Or proud. Satisfied that in some way they’ve achieved their goals — through you. The people around you are happy. That can feel good.

For a minute.

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Unless you’ve said “yes” to so much that you’ve completely over-promised and under-delivered. That’s what will eventually happen because of the sheer math of time. The people you thought you’d made so happy are now angry because you can’t follow through on commitments to them and the multiple other parties expecting something you.

You promised.

You said, “yes”,

The more difficult project might be the “no project”. Try going an entire day (or a week. Or a year) saying, “no” to everything. Take on no new projects and only fulfill current commitments.

For most of us, it’s only then we can figure out where we truly would like to put our “yes”.

“We can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives ... If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.“

― Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less