Focus on Yes

Part 3 of A Good Idea is (Not) Hard to Find

In the past couple articles, we’ve established that there are lots of good ideas out there, and that many of us have them, all of the time.  We’ve also established that despite this, it can be difficult to harness the creative energy behind idea generation, and to see our concepts through to fruition.

Good ideas are intoxicating, but birthing and raising an idea to maturity and reality is the real deal. It’s significant!  I want to share a strategy which lays the groundwork for really giving an idea some traction – which gives it a chance at life!


Know your big picture focus. (What will you say YES to?)

Identifying your “yesses” is an integral part of creating an environment where things get done.  Knowing your “yesses” is part of what it means to grow up!  As we mature, we are faced with fewer and fewer decisions between bad and good
(should I do more shots at my work party, or should I dial that back and stay sober?) and more decisions that are between good and better (should I spend Saturday hiking with my friends or baking cookies with my kids?).

The simplest way to deal with the constant barrage of “good v. better” decisions is to clearly know what you will always say “Yes” to.

Grab your favorite notebook, and start to jot a list.

This is my list.  Yours doesn’t have to be like it.  My list is not perfect, and I’m sure I’ll tweak it as I move forward.

  • I will say yes to God.
  • I will say yes to my close friends.
  • I will say yes to the opportunities I’ve been given to serve other people.
  • I will say yes to my family.
  • I will say yes to adventures.

You might be surprised by how much my “yes” list helps me on a daily basis.

Yes, I want to start my day talking to God and hearing from him in his word. Are mornings busy? Do I like to sleep in? Heck yeah! But am I centered, and energized, and loved up, and ready to love after my quiet time? Sure am. So deciding that this is a yes (and remembering why) helps me get out of bed, get that coffee going and settle in for morning devotions.

Yes, people are more important than things, and more important than my to-do list. So when it’s a crazy day, but a friend needs a talk and some coffee (there’s always coffee… maybe it should be on my “yes” list 🙂  ) then my pre-determined “yes” helps to put my busyness aside and listen.

I don’t know about you, but I find this really freeing. I get confused by the press of good things in my world, so taking some time to decide what my yesses will be really cuts through the clutter.

If you make a yes list, keep it short.  Leaving something off your list doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it just means that you won’t do it at the expense of a “yes”.

I guess there’s a caveat to all these yesses.  (Is there a personality type for someone who has to qualify everything they say?  If so, it’s mine.) But anyways – the qualification: “I will always say yes” has a context.  For instance, I do not mean that every time my kid wants to play Monopoly, I will immediately pass go, or that every time a friend asks for coffee I will drop everything and head out.  My yesses help me navigate, they don’t control my life.


OK.  That’s Cool. But How Do “Yeses” Help Me Creatively?

The great ideas that you can do, that you will do, that you will complete successfully, are the ideas that work in your life.

If you go into an idea enterprise blindly, what happens is that a few months into it, you realize it’s not fitting into your life.  It’s pushing up against “yeses” that you didn’t know you had.  You will drop that idea, after having likely already jeopardized some “yeses”, and wind up feeling discouraged about the whole ‘good idea’ thing.

Yeses help you trim your idea list to the ones at which you can succeed!

(We’ll talk about idea lists later – keep all of those good ideas!  Your “yes” list will change as your life changes, and you may find you can then succeed at some of those “listed” ideas.  Pie Shop, anyone?)

Please note:  This post is about the BIG ideas – business ventures, new directions in life, time consuming commitments.  If you have lots of good ideas for tweaking a Toll House cookie recipe, or painting your bathroom, or writing a poem, have at it!  No need to consult the “yes” list. 🙂

Alright now, peeps – let’s hear about some Yes Lists in the comments section!  I’m sure it will be thought provoking.


    1. Noreen,
      Did you run the Columbus half-marathon? (I see you’re from Cincinnati). I have several friends who ran that… just wondering. Regardless, Congratulations! And, yes ,that IS a big YES. I bet you’re so glad you made the commitment. 🙂 I can only imagine if you put that much energy into your blog, you’ll really be pleased with where you’re at in a few months!

  1. I love the fact nieghbors is on your yes list!!!
    What does it say about my stage in life that the thought of a yes list overwhelms me? And this is from someone who loves to make lists! I think maybe I know that making a yes list might show me that I have being saying yes to some things that should be NO (and maybe even no way, not ever and don’t even think about it)
    I’ll think about it tomorrow……..

    Susan Fanta
    1. Are you quoting Scarlett O’Hara when you say “I’ll think about it tomorrow”? If so, we may have more in common than we think! 🙂

      Just remember that the Yes List is supposed to be a filter, so that you can avoid being overwhelmed by negotiables. Maybe you just have too many things on your list?

  2. Heidi, you never cease to inspire me..! Did you write this with anyone in mind (?!)..ok, maybe i’m not the only one..
    btw, i have the perfect hoosier for the pie shop so let me know :)–keep up the very entertaining and illuminating entries!

    Lisa Foster
    1. Thanks, friend! Of course, there’s a lot of mutual inspiration going on here… :), and no – you’re not the only one with lots of good ideas. You do, however, have some of the best ideas, IMHO. (P.S. – I’m still looking forward to interviewing you!)

  3. I think the yes list is a great idea. It’s easy with so many demands on our time to find yourself pulled in multiple directions and ultimately not fulfilling any of your own desires. Concentrating on what is important to you helps you prioritise all those competing demands. It’s not a bad thing to say “no, not right now” sometimes.

    Janine Fitzpatrick
  4. You “yes” list reminds me of Steven Coveys “big rocks” concept. Deciding what the big rocks are in your life, scheduling them (putting them in the bucket) first, then allowing the little stones to fill in the empty spots in your (bucket)schedule. The hard part is deciding what are big rocks/better ideas and what are stones/good ideas. But boy once you’ve nailed those down, those “To Do” lists are so much easier to manage. My biggest problem is actually remembering to write things down on a daily basis. I go in cycles of daily journalling and listing and then….. nothing ARGH.

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