025: Saying Yes to the Best Things: How Do You Balance It All? [Podcast]

We have to slow the rhythm of rush in our lives so that the best of who are can emerge.
–Lysa Terkeurst

Inevitably in life, a certain level of success will mean embracing the necessity of saying no. I think we all know this. But when and to what do we get to say yes? That’s what we cover in this week’s podcast.

Rhythm of rush
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In this episode of The Portfolio Life, best-selling women’s author Lysa Terkeurst shares with me her story of learning to say no and how it led to her eventually getting to say “yes” to the best things.

The Best Yes

Lysa’s latest book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demand, is a faith-based guide to making important decisions. And let’s be honest — we can all relate to these struggles:

  • When do we say no to friends to work on a passion project?
  • When do we say yes to family and no to working late?
  • How do we stop saying yes to things just of guilt?

Whether it’s chasing a dream, prioritizing relationships, or simply wanting to be productive with your time, understanding what your “best yes assignments” are is essential to living a meaningful life.

As the leader of a Christian women’s ministry and a successful author and speaker, Lysa’s schedule is anything but sparse. It would be easy for her to rush from one activity to the next, always operating in urgency mode. But she does her best to do the opposite.

Every Monday night, the Terkeurst family gathers for a dinner full of conversation and friends and, of course, food. It’s a staple in their house and community. This is just one of many things Lysa does to keep herself grounded in what matters most.

It’s a simple reminder to herself and her family that relationships, not tasks, are what matter most. And that just may be true for all of us.

Interview highlights

In the interview, we discussed:

  • Why we can’t make more time or find more time.
  • The importance of planning out your week ahead of time — and how to use all 168 hours efficiently.
  • What it cost Lysa when she got serious about writing.
  • Why scheduling in blocks of productivity is the only difference between a dreamer and a doer.
  • How Lysa arranges her schedule around her family and not the other way around.
  • Why study is something productive people can’t neglect.

Some takeaways

  • There’s no such thing as balance, but we can be honest about our struggles with saying “no.”
  • Life is unpredictable, but we can be intentional.
  • The only difference between where I am today.
  • Saying no is not a rejection, but a necessary protection of the things that matter most.
  • As soon as you set a priority, a distraction will come (which is why you have to plan your priorities ahead of time).
  • Study one topic for an hour a day for five years, you’ll become an expert at that topic.
  • Making decisions that create dread, disappointment, or drama aren’t worth saying “yes” to.

Start saying yes to the best things

If you’re ready to start saying no to the good so that you can say yes to the best things, here are some next steps to take:

  1. Plan your time intentionally. List out all your hours in a week and identify reality so you can identify how much spare time you actually have.
  2. Schedule work around priorities, like family and friends, not the other way around.
  3. Fill yourself with good things so that when life squeezes you, good things come out.
  4. Think about the long-term effects of every decision you make, not just what feels good right now.
  5. Celebrate relationships, remembering that people, not projects, ought to occupy the sacred parts of your life.

Also, if you’re enjoying the podcast, you can check out past episodes in iTunes or Stitcher. Be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss a thing. Thanks for listening!

Here’s one final quote from Lysa (if you enjoyed this, feel free to share!).

If I say yes, it may feel good today. But wisdom makes decisions that are good not just for today but that will still be good tomorrow. (Tweet)
—Lysa Terkeurst

For practical ways you can start saying no check out Lysa’s post 10 Ways to Graciously Say No When You Feel Pressured to Say Yes.

What’s an example of a “best yes” in your life — when you said no to a good thing so that you could say yes to the right thing? Share in the comments.


20 thoughts on “025: Saying Yes to the Best Things: How Do You Balance It All? [Podcast]

  1. This concept is so much bigger than people realize. I’m glad that Lysa’s written about it, and that it’s being acknowledged. Sometimes, just the acknowledgement of it helps give people permission to admit they struggle with this, and that they want to do something to change it. Just about everyone I know feels like their lives are just one obligation after another, but they’ve lost all the joy in living, and the days, months and years start to become a blur. Living intentionally is important not just for ourselves, but for everyone we love. And I’m guessing we’ll all be that much more successful for it. I love the idea of remembering that our relationships are sacred, that’s a powerful reminder.

  2. I love the idea of the monday dinners. Gonna discuss that with my wife.

    Saying no is so important. I strongly believe that this is why God made us all different, but nobody indispensable. We complement each other.

    One hour for five years reading about a topic to become an expert? Great advice. how about reading the bible for one hour a day? Benefit: you will not only become an expert about the bible, but a friend with God.

  3. I really love Lysa’s quote “Saying no is not a rejection, but a necessary protection of the things that matter most.” – I find I enjoy life so much more when I am disciplined to say no.

  4. Excellent wisdom. Even though I am in the ” last quarter” of my life I struggle with the YES issues. I appreciated the good advice and continue to work on mastering this aspect in my life.

  5. Great discussion and I loved the priorities … it goes along with one of my favorite sayings that people are all that matters .. Each Other! God’s Blessings to you all!

  6. I had to give myself the gift of “no” to choose a healthy start, process, loss of and a resulting in a healthy maintenance of a 132 lbs weight loss. Giving myself permission to say no liberated me to experience a huge change over all, choosing a healthy lifestyle, a dream come true at losing and being healthy, and discovery of the best me in one simple gift to myself.

  7. I loved Lysa’s book and read it within the first week it was out. It only took me a few days to read, and I really liked how practical the message was, but also how important something as simple (but also hard!) as saying no. Thanks for the interview.

  8. Having been working from home for almost five months now, I made conscious decisions from the get go about trying to separate “work” from home. One — I write down pretty much everything I do during my normal working hours. If it means I take the day off for a college visit with my son, then that is what I write down. Or an extra long lunch with a friend, dr appt, etc. I need to keep track of what I do with my time. Not because anyone else looks at it, but I want to be accountable to myself. Two — I MAKE time for family, spouse, friends, etc. Work will still be there tomorrow — regardless if it was at an office down the street or just around the corner from my kitchen. I know people that have been swallowed by building their own business and I am for working hard. But when it all comes down to it, after the work day is done, you will always need something else (or someone else) other than work. Three — I say “NO” with no guilt attached whatsoever. My health (mental and physical) must be sharp at all times and taking care of myself makes me more than a better me — it makes me a better wife, mother, friend, sibling, etc. Stress will come when we are out of sync with how we should be and it affects everything else! Balance is KEY!

  9. Great to hear Lysa say, “We have to slow the rhythm of rush in our lives so the best of who we are can emerge.” Often when it comes to success, fast is slow and slow is fast.

  10. Jeff and Lysa: great interview!
    So many takeaways:
    -Dread, disappointment, and drama.
    -Goodness vs. frustration leaking out when we’re squeezed.
    -Giving a healthy dose of noise to someone who needs it.
    -Choosing the best yes over the good yes’s
    Wow! Thanks!

  11. I absolutely LOVED this podcast. What an amazing and vibrant woman. I’m going to take the fist point of planning my time intentionally and scheduling in things that matter to me (writing, family, artist’s dates with myself) to heart. Thanks a ton for this one, Jeff.

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