Every time we make a decision, we say yes to one thing and no to another.

  • “Yes” to a burger and fries is “no” to a trim stomach.
  • “Yes” to driving north is “no” to driving south.
  • “Yes” to an afternoon with a friend is “no” to an afternoon at work.

Yes and no are the two sides of the coin of decision. We make decisions by evaluating options and choosing the one we think is best, and by extension, saying no to every other option. Every decision is a yes to one thing and no to other things.

Think of it like a path with constant crossroads. The path diverges, and we can’t travel both. We must choose a path, and accept where that path leads.

This is why good decisions require a constant sense of the bigger yes. For instance, when we have the bigger yes of a fit body in mind, we can say no to the urge for a burger and fries. But without that bigger yes in mind, fast food wins.

One way to get clear on the bigger yes is to create a “Dream To-Do List.” Fill a page of writing that completes this sentence: “If I knew I couldn’t fail, and had all the time and money I needed, I would…”

Why might we do this? To cement a bigger yes in our minds. Managing our motivations is a constant challenge that requires saying no every day. Without a bigger yes, we lose sight of priorities and lose self-control.

But when we have a bigger yes in mind, saying no is much easier.