Do you know how and when to say "no" when you're a "yes ma'am" or man?

He looked at me sideways, quizzically. 

“Is there anything you DON’T like?” 

“Seriously?” I countered, “of course!” Does that question count? I thought, agitated. I hesitated. 

I had been enjoying an enchanted evening in NYC, dining with a man I glorified, but Lord, this man was no ordinary man. He was a “NO” man. He was the most successful and discerning man I knew. And in this No Man’s Land, the following activities are taboo:

  • karaoke

  • heights

  • poetry readings

  • any performance with “modern” in the description

  • an event that invites audience remarks

  • drinking alcohol

  • sparking up a joint or smoking of any kind

  • water parks

I don’t know...that last one might be a lie, but it seems like it could apply... 

Now for kicks, let's take a look at what's at the top of my FUN list:

  • karaoke

  • slam poetry

  • spicy margaritas

  • pun competitions

  • anything involving audience participation

  • rowdy dog runs

  • anything with big salt flecks

  • Jimmy Fallon’s lip synch tête-à-tête

  • aerial yoga —> have actually never done but looks beautiful and fun

  • conversations with people I enjoy so much that I hold my bladder till its about to explode, then awkwardly and quickly shimmy to the commode...

That list could go on forever. It is WAY easier for me to supply things I like to do than don’t. Probably because I’ve stopped feeling that sinking feeling saying no to things that don’t float my boat. So there is seldom a time when it’s on my mind. For the most part, I’ve arranged to be consistently in an environment that pleases me. My 2-mile commute to work is minute, I love my bedroom’s fuchsia wall. I’m a creatively thoughtful optimist which is just semantics—I’m a romantic

And yes, perhaps I see the world through rosy-hued lenses, but I’d like to think they lend to my thoughts and maybe thinking pink ain’t so bad. Or drinking pink, for that matter. My fave mocktail is club soda + bitters and a lime and it’s refreshing taste and pale crimson color gives me joy every time.  

Some might even call me a Pollyanna, defined as an excessively cheerful person and being perky has it’s perks. But if your chin is high, you will nod off eventually. It’s gravity, and being a YES human is depleting. Because you’re opening doors, they swing both ways so a lot can escape when you live in ‘yay’. Knowing if you are a YES person foremost, helps you preserve your energy where you need it most.

Here are some characteristics of YES people:

  • lots of energy

  • extroverts

  • curious

  • open-minded

  • involved in many activities

  • a desire to be physically moving

  • risk-takers

  • have trouble with boundaries

  • talkative

  • attract others to them

  • "life of the party” personality

  • can't hold their bladder (ok maybe that's just me)

YES people are who you call when you need a 'plus one.' YES people are who you go to help cheer you on or when you need a hug. They are human spark plugs. But if they’re not careful, YES people will burn out. They are like those fabulous roman candles that burn burn burn across the sky—the mad ones, according to Kerouac.

Image credit: Scott Cleary of

Image credit: Scott Cleary of

I know what it’s like to be on a YES binge. I thought I was making everyone’s lives brighter if I gave my light away and stayed super busy, but it just made me dim and extremely dizzy. Seriously, I got vertigo and couldn’t see straight for 10 days. Click here to hear more about burnout and the price I paid. 

So how do you be the best of both no and yes? It’s being self-aware and taking care to only do what’s important to you.

Success to me means knowing when to say no and having full control over YES.

This means—saying YES to things that fall into your YES-ZONE. 

The Yes Zone aka Derek Siver’s “Hell Yeah” = items in your “prior rights.” Prior rights are well, you guessed it—priorities. 

So here’s what you can do to get there—this is taken from Day 2 of the #5DaysofFocus (Click here to get all 5 days—it pays dividends, my friend).

Try writing out your Prior-Rights THIS WEEK. The following make their way into my ‘zone', use them or write your own:

  • Income - Full or part-time income

  • Health/Wellness — Meditation and physical exercise

  • Environment— Home / workspace that’s habitable

  • Relationships — Friends / Lovers / Family

  • Creativity— Creating / Taking in beautiful / inspirational / thought-provoking stimuli like art, theatre, literature, comedy

  • Spirituality—Worship practice

  • Growth—Expanding your mind, adding additional skills to your arsenal

Now date it. Number them. No more than 7. And you can Yes the Hell Yeah outta these. Anything that doesn’t fit into one of these buckets this week, you have full permission to dump. Next week you can re-evaluate—in no way are these set in stone. Does giving yourself control over YES make you feel closer to success? Tweet and tell me @alisonperrie what’s front and center in your YES zone.