How to Add Value to Your Life By Saying Yes

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 12/16/10 •  4 min read

How often do you say yes?

No really, think about that.  If a friend calls you to hang out, do you usually oblige or make an excuse for why the couch and a Dominos pizza sounds better?  If a Twitter follower of yours who you’ve never heard of wants to have a Skype conversation or go for a beer, do you go for it?

Every once in awhile I find myself falling into the no zone.  The no zone is when you think you’re too busy, lazy or a combination of both to open yourself up to the opportunities that present themselves to you in life.

The no zone sucks.  Its a terrible place to be, and if you’re there for very long, you’re going to be missing out on a lot more than just the occasional night on the town.

Last Thursday I got a phone call from my friend Markus. Markus is a guy who I deeply respect and have been wanting to meet up with in person all year.  He very simply said he was getting a bunch of the best thinkers he knew and having them come out to his beach house in Florida for the weekend.  Sounds awesome right?  It meant canceling all my plans for the weekend, and hopping on a plane in less than 24 hours.

Part of me kept wanting to say no.  It would mean bailing on plans with friends, rushing to get some work done, and generally adapting to an offer quicker than most people like to do.

HDR Photo of a beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida

On the beach in Siesta Key, Florida

But luckily I said yes and was treated to one of the best weekends in recent memory.  Not only is he awesome, but the group of people he brought out were some of the most successful and interesting I’ve met in awhile.  I left with a totally new outlook on my life and business.

That’s a pretty powerful result for merely saying “yes”.

Over the weekend a question was posed, and I find myself still reflecting upon it. The question was:

“If you could do any one thing, anywhere in the world, right now – what would it be?”

Think about that yourself, and come up with an answer.

Now, if someone called you up and offered you that very thing for free, but you had to leave in 20 minutes, would be able to say yes?  Would you be able to drop everything in your life to do something great? For some reason, I fell like most people out there would say no.

Work obligations, laziness, fear, whatever it is, I think most people would turn down the offer.  Would you?

If my theory is true, then I can only imagine the opportunities people are passing up on a daily basis.  Sure, many of those may not seem quite so awesome on the surface, but you never know where “yes” will lead you.

So now that you’re consciously thinking about your propensity to answer yes, how do you actually start using the word more?


Next time someone asks you to do something for them, just say yes.  Regardless whether or not you think it will benefit you, just say yes.

If you’re debating between doing something or not, just do it.  Over the long term, the benefits of a life of yes will far outweigh any negatives that might be associated with any one given decision.

I suppose all of that said, I should add a disclaimer.  If you’re considering going on a murderous rampage, jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, or committing any kind of financial fraud – then you may be better off saying no. But everything else, go for it! Ok almost…

I attribute any success I’ve had in my life over the past year to saying yes.  Should I move to Thailand and go to work for a complete stranger? Yes.  Fly to places like the Philippines or Florida on a whim? Yes. Buy an expensive(ish) camera when my finances were a bit up in the air? Yes.

I’m not encouraging you to do anything irresponsible, but I think you get where I’m going with this.

What have you said yes to lately that has changed your life?  Or perhaps more importantly, what have you missed out on because you were in the no zone.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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24 comments on "How to Add Value to Your Life By Saying Yes"

  1. Frank Mocerino says:

    “If a Twitter follower of yours who you’ve never heard of wants to have a Skype conversation or go for a beer, do you go for it?”

    I’m on the reverse side of this, being the guy who contacts people to have Skype conversations. For the past year, I’ve been saying “no,” to reaching out.

    Now that I’m doing it, I’ve realized that these people that I admire aren’t scary and genuinely want to help.

  2. Joel says:

    Ha, the “no zone” I like it :).

    I feel the same way. That’s why I instituted my “yes policy” –

    I’ve gotten a lot from it. Trip to Hawaii, Europe, and lots lots more.

    I do have to say, I am a little disappointed you saying “yes” meant missing out on our little meeting though :(.

  3. Lou Mindar says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Because when you say “yes,” you’re not just saying “yes” to the invitation to dinner or drinks or a movie or a weekend at a beach house in Florida. You’re saying “yes” to potentially endless possibilities. And at the risk of sounding a little woo-woo, you are saying “yes” to the universe. You are opening yourself up and inviting in opportunity.

    Thanks for reminding me about this, Sean!

  4. Peter Zink says:

    It often seems like the bigger the decision you’re afraid to say “yes” to, but then do, the more likely you’ll be rewarded with value.

  5. Brandon Li says:

    I haven’t read it yet, but holy crap you’re a good photographer.

    1. Sean says:

      @Brandon Now if only I could edit like you!

      @Lou Exactly!

      @Joel Believe me you werent the only one who was disappointed! Let’s make it happen soon, shooting you an email now.

      @Frank It was a pretty cool realization for me when I realized how genuinely helpful people out there are. No reason not to get in touch with them…

  6. Had you called me up and said you were just on the other side of the bridge from me and wanted me to drive over and grab some food, I definitely would have said yes 😀

  7. Jennifer says:

    I am scheduled to the max because I say yes.
    But nothing seems as grand as when I push everything aside for that big yes.
    Sitting with my grandfather in the ICU last weekend wasn’t in my plans, but I am so glad I said yes. It benefited me more than it helped him.

  8. Karol Gajda says:

    I love saying yes, but it can cause problems if you ask thousands of people to give you yes requests: 🙂

  9. Brandon Li says:

    I was in the same dilemma when Markus called me, and I worked all night to be able to go to Florida. I believe the “say yes” mentality is one of the main lessons I learned during that trip. This morning I had a colleague call me to express his doubts that his TV show pilot could be shot with the allotted budget. His tone indicated he wanted me to agree, which the “old” me might have done. Instead, I spewed out every ridiculous idea I had for making it happen. He resisted encouragement, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he calls me back in a week with a plan. Belief can be just as contagious as doubt. Rock on, Sean.

  10. Courtney Baker says:

    Hey I was just reflecting on our trip to Thailand, and I thought about it. Just wanted to stop by and see how you are doing! Hope we get to bump into each other in the States.

  11. Nate says:

    ‘The no zone’ describes it perfectly. And I really like that question you asked about if someone offered you your dream opportunity for free, but you had to leave in 20 minutes. For the first time in my life I’m at a place where I could actually say yes to that. Just sat here for quite a while thinking about that. Pretty cool.

    Anyway, great stuff as usual man.

  12. Mark Powers says:

    How right you are, Sean . . . the no zone sucks. While saying “yes” may not always bring about a great time, a new friend, an incredible adventure or amazing work opportunity, sometimes it does. “No,” on the other hand, is guaranteed not to. Why not try? Always inspiring dude- hope to catch up soon!

  13. Kevin Evans says:

    If you want an extreme example of always saying yes, Check out Yes Man by Danny Wallace (the book that inspired the Jim Carrey Based film). A truly entertaining and fascinating read.

  14. Jonny Gibaud says:

    Make sure you take some time out to watch “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey for some inspiration. The extended story behind that with the real life Danny Wallance and his journey is alway very interesting.

  15. Kenan Lucas says:

    I try to be as spontaneous as possible and am always up for anything – but like you said sometimes you fall in the ‘no zone’ which is not good. Thanks Sean for the article and for helping me be more conscious of the benefits of saying ‘yes’!

  16. Kevin Salas says:

    great articles dude ! It’s hard to say no to Markus lol 🙂

  17. Yes!

    Enjoy your optimism. A minimalist lifestyle really helps me be able to say “yes” to more things than I used to.

    Take care,


  18. I try to be as spontaneous as possible and am always up for anything – but like you said sometimes you fall in the ‘no zone’ which is not good. Thanks Sean for the article and for helping me be more conscious of the benefits of saying ‘yes’!

  19. Dave Huss says:

    This is such a great and relevant post Sean. Here is my recent example of changing my life with “yes”:

    I found out that Tim Ferriss was hosting a launch party for the Four Hour Body in NYC. There were all these excuses in my head why I couldn’t go:
    -None of my friends could make it, I would go alone
    -It was 3 hours away
    -It was too cold outside
    -What if I get lost?

    But when it comes down to it, those anxieties were really not as big and scary as my fears made them to be. The only real question that mattered was:

    When am I ever going to get another opportunity to meet Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi in person? Possibly never.

    So what ended up happening? I drove three and half hours to NYC and stood outside in line for an hour in the freezing cold.

    Was saying yes worth it? Absolutely.

    The event was amazing and I got to meet Tim Ferriss in person and thank him for transforming my life from average to awesome in less than a year. I also got to meet Ramit Sethi and lots of cool young entrepreneurs.

    Just say yes.

  20. Rob says:

    I’m new to this way of thinking and to be honest, I find a lot of it exciting and in general I think I buy in to the yes theory. I guess though that as i have recently entered a new lifestage (fatherhood) the time has come to weigh up the yes and no’s – sometimes the no zone is right when factoring in all the responsibilities in life.

    Has anyone else on here tackled this challenge?

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