Doug and Lynn Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

Do you catch yourself saying “yes” when you really want to say “no”?

Whether to say “yes” or “no” to something involves a choice. And how many times do you think people make choices every day? (Drum roll, please!) According to research, the answer is 35,000! Yes, per day!

We never realized there were so many choices but it starts right away with the choice to get up out of bed — or not. Many of the choices are automatic, like habits that we’ve formed. Other choices are more conscious. Anne Frank said, “Our very lives are fashioned by choice. First we make choices. Then our choices make us.”

What got us thinking about choices is that recently we attended an online presentation by author, speaker and trainer, Mitch Axelrod. He mentioned that last year he experienced a serious health challenge. This helped him take time to assess his values and what was really important to him. He looked at his choices and how he wanted to live his life.

Previously, he traveled extensively for his work. Now he wants to work online from home. He said, “We never know how many grains of sand we have left in our hourglass.” We realize how important our daily choices are in influencing our life. He also stressed the importance of choosing to do what we really want in our life and not living our life according to someone else’s choices.

Because we have choices, we can decide when to say "yes." We feel good about our choices when they are in alignment with our values. However, when we make choices that conflict with our values, that is when the consequences can be problematic. Josh Billings said, “Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying ‘yes’ too quickly and not saying ‘no’ soon enough.”

One problem that many people have is saying “yes” when they really want to say "no." Have you ever said “yes” to a request and then quickly regretted it? The regret may be because you didn’t really want to do it in the first place or you realized you didn’t have the time for it.

So why would people say “yes” when they really want to say “no”? If you have done this, the reason you said “yes” may be because you want to please people and you would feel guilty if you said "no." Maybe it was because you didn’t want to appear to be unkind or rude.

You made a choice to live up to your value of being a nice person, but at the same time, you left behind the value of honesty and honoring your preferences. Either way it can cause discomfort for you and often the other person would prefer your kind and honest “No, thank you.”

What is the solution for this dilemma? Realize that saying “no” does not mean that you are rude or selfish. You have the right to make choices as to what you want to do. When you are clear as to your priorities, you are more likely to make better choices.

It’s also important to know what your time is worth. Knowing this can help you decide whether saying “yes” will take time away from things that are a higher priority for you.

Identifying your values are the real key to making good choices for your life. We talked to a colleague who is a single mom, whose children are now in college. Recently she drastically changed her choices about her lifestyle. She sold the big house and is now traveling nationally and also internationally.

She values travel and freedom — both of these are achieved through choices for her new lifestyle. We feel it might be hard to not have a “home base” to return to, but she’s enjoying life and feeling comfortable wherever she chooses to go.

Zig Ziglar talked about “The 3 C’s of life: Choices, Chances, and Changes. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.” Our colleague said “no” to one lifestyle so she could say “yes” to a new lifestyle. She made choices, took chances, made changes and loves her new life.

What about you? Are you making choices that allow you to love your life as you want it to be? We encourage you to make choices that support your values so you can thoroughly enjoy your life even more.

Chanhassen residents Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at