How To Make Wise Decisions Even When Life Is Chaotic.

Life seems to be in a constant state of chaos. Much like a washing machine, we often feel like we can’t catch our breath or stop the spinning.

And with this chaos, whether or not we want to admit it, we often feel overwhelmed and hopeless. But there is something deep inside each of us that wants out. We desire freedom. We desire order. We desire a life we love and that makes an impact in our world.

But is it even possible to press stop, reset, or start over.

I recently read an incredible book by my friend, Jeff Shinabarger, and he has challenged me that stopping the chaos in my life is about making one decision at a time and by simply choosing to say YES or NO.


Here are my three takeaways from his new book, YES or NO:

1. Invite Others to the Table.
Community is our most valuable asset. If you are one who prefers to make decisions on your own, then you might already be pushing back on this. But Jeff points out that “Three different types of people have the ability to speak into our lives: No People, Yes People, and Advisors.” The No people look negatively at every situation. No matter what, they will find something to criticize. Yes people value agreeability. They care more about optimism than hard realities. Advisors are those who believe in you and want you to win. They speak honestly. Surround yourself with these people and allow their opinions to be a part of your decision making process.

2. Name Your Fears.
“Fear is a constant companion and our toughest competition.” Our fears never leave us, they have an opinion on everything we do. And it seems that to speak of them is to acknowledge that they exist. So instead of fighting these fears, we hide in the corner with them. As Jeff says,

“When fears overtake the problems we are called to solve, we miss out on a portion of our unique design. Fears will be prevalent, so we need persistence in beating them. Fears tend to creep in and dominate our potential, but decision makers choose to understand their fears and allow hopeful possibilities to overcome the voice of doubt.”

Name your fears. Write them down. Talk about them with the people you trust. And decide that you will say NO to their power in your life.

3. Make Time for Solitude.
This seems foreign in a world where we are constantly communicating. We have learned to exist in a time where white noise is our silence. Jeff reminded me in his book that “The practice of stopping has been lost to the efficiency of modern life. We don’t have time to stop. We don’t have time to pray. At one time my normal workday included a lunch break; now I work through lunch. I believe in order to think holistically we must reteach ourselves to stop.”

Will you commit to take some time and stop? Just you, all alone. No phone. No people. Just you and your thoughts and the wisdom you have gathered from others.

At this point, you have to make a decision. You will never fully know what the future holds, but you must take the wisdom you have received from God and others, your own thoughts and goals, and make a decision. YES or NO.

Do you struggle with saying yes or no? What stops or slows you down?

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15 Responses

  1. I just took the quiz and discovered I’m a list maker. What’s funny about that is that I give my wife a hard time about making endless lists. Apparently I do too, but they’re all in my head. I wonder what that means.

  2. Dale,
    I’m a yes person because I want to be helpful, but with age I have learned to say no. It feels empowering when you want to say yes and then say no. God and family are what stops me and slows me down. They are the ones who help me to keep my priorities straight. I still feel guilty sometimes for saying no to people, but then I ask myself, “Who is more important? The person that is asking me to do this thing, or God/my family?”

    1. That is the most difficult question to answer. I do believe that our choices should always prioritize who and what we love while equally they should be encouraging you to do what you are made to do. This is a consistent balance that ought to be consistently talked about with your family and people most close to you. I want to encourage you though, if you are wrestling with that question you are probably making better choices than most that don’t think about it enough. This tension will always be present.

  3. This sounds like an amazing book something I would much be interested in reading. I do at many times in my life become overwhelm with life and everything that goes with it. It came to the point 3 years ago or so that I reached my limit and just broke down. Couldn’t expand myself anymore to get everything done. One thing that really changed me was getting a planner. Being able to see what I already had going on when people asked me to do this or that really helped me learn to say no to certain things. But I still take the time to say yes to others and no to something else already planned when friends and family are in need.

    1. Thanks for sharing comments Paulina. It sounds like you have a great grip on managing time and priorities! Keep making the tough calls that lead you closer to what you are designed to do and be.

  4. I use to struggle a lot with saying yes or no and still do at times. I think part of this was because I was a negative person in my past and use to surround myself with many of the same people so it greatly affected me.

    I also find that naming your fears is so important in order to overcome them. Every fear I have challenged and gone through has not killed me. Your fears won’t kill you even though it may feel like it, since our emotion of fear is still connected to the repitilian brain where it was used to keep us alive. Fight through your fears and your life will change.

    Slowing down and seeking solitude is so important. I started reading books a lot more again and it has been part of the reason my mood has shot up. It brings you back in the moment and can challenge you think about different things.

    This for this post. Every decision we make in the present creates our future.

    Dale. I love your pinterest cover images. They are very eye catching.

  5. No is a really powerful word that I think A LOT of people struggle with… at least a lot of the people I encounter on a regular basis. It’s something I used to struggle with quite a bit, but have learned to allow myself to say no when I need to, and let me tell you, the power and freedom in allowing myself to do is incredible, and I agree with you, learning just to say yes or no can make things so much less complicated.

    Thanks Dale!

    Julia Kristina

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