re: The Value Of Your Time VIEW POST


One of the most useful approaches/mindsets I've come across for questions like this is as follows:

There are 2 basic ways of responding to requests: "Yes unless no" and "No unless yes".

Yes unless no means that you default to saying 'yes', unless there's a compelling reason to say no. This approach makes a ton of sense early in your career, or any time you have a dearth of opportunities... you want to take advantage of things coming your way.

At some point, you will probably end up in a situation where you have more opportunities than time to pursue them. At that point it is important to switch to "no unless yes". The default answer is 'no', unless there's a compelling reason to say yes. This is especially true if you know where you're going and have already lined up a lot of projects and work that helps to get you there.

Most people (myself included) don't make the switch until quite a while after they should have... with the result being they become stressed out and overcommitted. For me I was at a place where I couldn't take on anything more, but I still felt guilty every time I said 'no' to something because I was coming from a default of 'yes of course'. Learning this mental model and switching to 'no unless yes' helped me completely remove that feeling of guilt, as well as end up at a much more manageable/low stress life.


Unless I'm misreading, it sounds like you may still be in 'yes unless no' mode... lots and projects and side projects. And that may well still be the right approach given where you are at, looking to move to a new career path.

Only you can decide when it's time for you to move to 'no unless yes'. I will say that when I made that shift, I found it a lot easier than I expected, there was a lot less push back than I anticipated, and at least for me it was loooooong overdue.


This does sound like the sort of thing I will have trouble with down the road, but you're right, I'm very much in the "yes unless no" mode now. Any opportunity to build something useful is still a good thing for me. I'll definitely be sure to keep this in mind, though, I like your concise way of phrasing the concept. Thanks for your input!

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