In the 2004 movie Yes Man, Jim Carrey plays Carl Allen, a pessimistic man whose life is ruled by saying ‘no’ to almost everything in his life. He has broken up with his girlfriend, doesn’t answer his friends’ phone calls, refuses invitations to social events and outings, stays home for days on end, and his career is stagnant. His life is stuck on a rut in all aspects – social, personal and professional. One day an old colleague of Carl’s introduces him to a ‘YES’ seminar. Carl attends he seminar where he is put under a spell where he says ‘yes’ to everything for one year. His life is suddenly transformed – as a Yes Man, he is presented with and takes advantage of wonderful opportunities and his life takes a turn for the better. He gets promoted, his love life blossoms, he learns a new language, he makes new friends. By saying yes to everything, the film shows that you can truly live a fulfilling life, at least for a little while.

What if we actually do what Carl Allen in our own lives? To say yes to everything is not realistic and not wholly applicable to real life. Saying yes to everything is not always a good thing – the reality is that people who always say yes are most likely driven by approval, or the need to please others, instead of being truly motivated by their own best interests. Should you say yes to every social event you are invited to? To every request your kids give you? To that ‘once in a lifetime’ used car deal? To every client or job offer? People who say yes to everything will find themselves more tired, stressed and burnt out. They lose focus, lose control over their own lives and lose a true sense of identity as they will find that their life is driven and defined by others needs and wants.

On the other hand, if you are Carl Allen before he underwent the ‘YES’ seminar i.e. someone who says no to everything, you could be stuck in the same situation as he was – in a rut with an unfulfilling life. Opportunities passed him by and his life and career had no growth, change, learning, and he did not feel any sense of achievement, motivation or satisfaction.

It is not sustainable, or healthy to be a Yes Man by agreeing to every opportunity that comes across your path. On the other hand, being a No Man can be equally damaging to your personal growth and sense of satisfaction as life and opportunities can pass you by. The one thing to keep in mind is that each decision should go towards having a balance between the important areas of your life, and each decision should be adding value to your life. If you know what your goals, ambitions and dreams are then every time you are presented with an opportunity, ask yourself ‘Will this help me achieve my goals or add value to my life?’ By keeping this focus in mind, you will know when to say yes and when to say no, and be truly satisfied with your choice.

So are you a Yes Man or a No Man? Or are you someone in between?