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Saying “No” is MORE Risky Than Saying “YES”

Saying “No” is MORE Risky Than Saying “YES”

April 01, 2022

"Do one thing every day that scares you." -Eleanor Roosevelt

The other night, my son asked me, out of the blue, to go get ice cream with him. Sweet, right?

Sure. But I immediately responded in my head: “Absolutely not. I’m too tired, I missed my workout this morning, so that’s too many calories. I’m right in the middle of a work presentation that I need to finish and, frankly, it’s just too darn cold for ice cream in Minnesota.”

But before I opened my mouth, my brain kicked in and I thought: “This is an unusual request from him. I wonder: what is my son REALLY asking me for right now?”

My 21-year old baby! He’s asking to spend time with his mom (on a weeknight) and my instincts to say “no” kicked right in. But in reality, I want to spend more time with him and I always jump at the chance when he extends an invitation – which doesn’t happen often, let me tell you.

So I did something that felt kind of risky (both for my waistline and emotional state); I said yes.

And that risk absolutely paid off. We had a great conversation, my son shared some new developments in his life, and, honestly, I enjoyed that ice cream, cold and all. It was a wonderful way to end a Monday night.

When I got home, I started thinking and I wondered: why was my instinct to say NO tonight? What’s so risky about a Monday night ice cream? And what’s so risky about saying YES in general? Why do we choose to say “yes” or “no” in our daily lives? 

Well, “no” seems…safe. SAFER, anyway. After all, if you’re saying “no,” aren’t you mitigating the risk that comes from walking into new situations that you’re not familiar with? Saying no means…safety. Security. Protection.

Maybe. But…WHAT IF…saying YES leads you down a road you never knew you needed to travel? What if saying yes leads to a new experience that makes your life feel even more full, even more worthwhile (see: eating ice cream with your 21-year old son).

So, how does saying yes or no apply when it comes to looking at your financials and your financial situation?

The markets are interesting these days – I bet you’ve noticed that. So maybe you’re saying NO to all investments. Maybe you’re keeping all your money in cash. And if that’s what feels right to you - great!

But consider this. What if the markets turn quickly? What if what you thought was going to be a prolonged market turns around in…3 weeks? By the time you’ve said YES to investing again, you’ve missed out on most of the upside. In this case, saying NO was actually riskier than saying yes.

Our well-being requires us to be open – open to new ideas, new possibilities, new relationships, new jobs, new ideas, new adventures…Saying yes to any one of these opportunities might FEEL risky…but it has the potential to lead to huge growth. And growth is ESSENTIAL! It goes back to this basic philosophy: if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

That’s where courage comes in. Courage is saying yes in the face of fear. Courage is not knowing what will happen if you say YES…but trusting that you DO know what will happen if you say no – nothing.

So how do you say yes when you’re scared and fearful of what’s around you? How do you make yourself be willing to grow?

I just say – what if?

What if I meet somebody new?
What if the markets turn around suddenly?

What if a new opportunity presents itself?
What if I JUST HAD FUN??? (Remember fun?!)

Even when things don’t turn out as planned, in THAT…is information. You’re learning something that helps inform your future choices.

The world is in a turbulent state right now and the truth is no one can predict the future. But one thing we CAN predict is how we personally feel about risk and our risk tolerance.

We can also remember that saying no can be riskier than saying yes – there is that possibility that NO shouldn’t be the default.

After all, “no” as your default does not guarantee that you’ll mitigate your risk. In fact, “no” might, in the long run, prove to be the riskiest choice of all.