Win Today with Christopher Cook

Get Unstuck. Reclaim Your Purpose. Win Today.

How to Say “Yes” to What Really Matters Most

It was like watching a car accident take place, only I was the one driving the car. “Yes,” I chimed in as excitedly as a fourth grader on a snow day. “I can do that, too!” And like that, I couldn’t slam on the brakes quick enough. I wasn’t looking, nor was I paying attention as my shortsighted words of commitment foolishly (and unnecessarily) collided into an already jam-packed schedule that had no business entertaining one more new project that particular week.

Crap. What did I just do?

Have you ever sat on a suitcase after knowingly over-crowding its limited capacity in an attempt to zip it closed? Well that’s exactly what I did to my schedule. With one short, three-letter word spelled “y-e-s,” I broke the zipper.

Whatever. Stop smiling. I know it sounds ridiculous. But that’s what happened.

Once again, I over-committed myself. Why? I don’t know. Because, perhaps, having an overly packed schedule looks impressive? Maybe it makes me appear important and needed? Get real. It’s actually exhausting. I may have had a lot on my plate that week, but sitting aside that full plate was a scrumptious side order of regret set to the tune of the all-familiar “We need you, Chris!” commitment.

Listen up. Saying “yes” to all things creates a busy life but not necessarily a productive life. But learning to say “yes” to the right things creates focus and intentionality that yields forward progress and momentum in your everyday life.

Swat the Busy Bees

I couldn’t afford to let this happen again, so I took action and formulated a game plan to flush this behavior down the drain. As a first step, I interviewed three very successful people who all agreed that margin is critical for success in life primarily because it provides clarity and focused energy on the endeavors that will be most profitable in the long run. What I discovered in the interview process is that the successful people I talked to make a concerted effort to filter through superfluous activities and only say “yes” to the things that add the most value to their lives. In financial terms, they’re looking to maximize their return on investment. To a lot of us a jam-packed schedule appears impressive, but is it profitable?


The Screaming Hellcat

One of my closest friends owns a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. It screams. It houses a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 engine, uncorks 650 pounds of torque, and muscles out 707 horsepower. Hot dang. Bruno Mars said it best, because that ride is truly “smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy.” But if all he ever did were sit in the garage and rev the engine, he’d be wasting his time and money. That, my friend, is the difference between being busy and being productive with your personal potential.

Allow me to translate that for practical application: put the engine of your life in gear and do what matters most for the people that matter most.

So how do we filter through the clamor of busyness in order to accomplish that which is most productive and profitable? How do you and I learn to say “yes” to that which really matters most in life? I believe the invaluable answer will emerge as you ask yourself the following four interdependent questions.

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Saying “Yes.”

1.) What’s the Purpose for Saying “Yes”?

Behind every choice is a motivation for saying “yes” or “no.” Why are you considering saying “yes” to an opportunity? Is it because the outcome of the choice is valuable, necessary, and profitable? Are you saying “yes” to gain the approval of others in order to be well liked? Are you saying “yes” from an internal place of fear? Even if saying “yes” is personally costly, does it help someone in need? I should add that I believe helping someone in need is always valuable, necessary, and profitable.

2.) What’s the Cost of Saying “Yes”?

Everything has a cost; your time, talent, and energy are the currency. If the purpose and potential return are worthwhile, the cost of saying “yes” is actually a great investment.

3.) What’s the Potential Return from Saying “Yes”?

What will you gain by saying “yes”? Knowledge? A Relationship? New opportunities? Career advancement? The satisfaction that comes with making someone’s life better? Consider the return on your investment before making the investment!

4.) Why is this Important?

What’s at stake by saying “yes” to an opportunity? Whose life will be changed by your “yes”? What are the projected long-term gains?

As I mentioned earlier, these four questions are interdependent. Not only that, but they are applicable to you right now. So whether you’re the senior pastor of a church, business executive, creative artist, stay-at-home mom, single adult, or student, I challenge you to take these four questions seriously and apply them to your next decision-making opportunity.

The results have paid dividends in my own life and I know they’ll do the same for you.


FREE BONUS: Just because I think you’re awesome, I want to give you my NEW Decision-Making Guide Map. Simply fill-out the form below and watch your email inbox for the download link! The next time you have an important decision to make, print this out, answer the questions, fill-in the blanks, then say “hello” to clarity!



    Awesome and SO needed Chris! tweeting! 🙂

    • Thanks, Meg! Please share with your creative team, too! I believe a lot of “us” struggle with saying “yes” to the right things! Have a great week!

  • Great article. Don’t forget saying No sometimes has an opportunity cost associated with it.

    • Brian,

      Thanks so much. I totally agree! In your world, how have you seen the power of “yes” and “no” keep you focused on the most profitable activities?