A Thousand No’s for Every Yes

Back in 2013, Apple made a short video that talked about how they achieve perfection in their products. They talked about a few things, but what stood out to me, was a single line – “a thousand no’s for every yes.” Although originally coined to help market Apple products, that line has universal application in our lives. The modern world has deluded us into thinking that trade-offs do not exist, that nothing needs to be sacrificed to get something or to get somewhere. Trade-offs are not only still relevant, they are probably more important than they ever were. We are faced with hundreds of choices everyday, and the art of saying no to what you don’t need so that there will be space to say yes to what you do, is possibly the most important habit that I feel we need to form.

For the past few weeks, I have been trying to practice the philosophy of “a thousand no’s for every yes.” Here are some of the ways in which you can incorporate the philosophy in your life –

  1. Apply the philosophy to your social interactions: Saying yes to everyone who wants to spend time with you will wear you out and result in you not having enough time to work on yourself or on people and interactions that really matter. Before agreeing to meet someone, ask yourself a few questions – Will this meeting interfere with your routine? Whether this is the only time that you can meet them or if there’s a better time? Do you enjoy spending time with his person or going to the place you’re about to go to or will you end up regretting it? Is there a more fulfilling engagement coming up, which this meeting could leave you feeling exhausted for? You will be surprised to find out that many interactions we have in our lives, we don’t necessarily want to, but end up going ahead with, just to keep up with people, which obviously comes at a huge cost.
  2. Incorporate the philosophy into your purchasing decisions: Let’s face it, most of us have a limited amount of money to spend on things, and saying no to things that you don’t really need is the best way you can save up enough to buy the things you really want. Avoid making spontaneous decisions without thinking about a few things such as – Whether you really need whatever it is that you are about to buy? Will you end up using it everyday for quite some time? Have you researched enough on it to know that there isn’t a marginally more expensive variant that might suit your needs better? Is there something else you need in your life that is more critical than the purchase you are about to make?
  3. Use it to improve your food consumption: We tend to eat a lot of unhealthy food, without thinking of the piled up consequences they have on our health and body. Every-time you are about to eat something, ask yourself a few questions, such as – Is this the healthiest option you have? Have you already eaten enough unhealthy food this week? Have you exercised as much as you planned? Is it the best time to be having the kind of food you are about to have?
  4. Use it at work: People tend to expect us to be superheroes, capable of achieving everything at our workplace. Feeding into this myth will lower your productivity in the long run. Set yourself realistic goals and share them with your boss, explain to them that you’d rather give your all to a few tasks (especially if you excel at them) than try and do everything and in turn do a mediocre job at it all. Doing this will keep you engaged, motivated, and will also help highlight your strengths to your organization in a much more meaningful manner.

Here’s the advertisement by Apple that inspired this article.