If there was one word on this planet that killed more change, it would be the word ‘No.’ No, I don’t have the energy to launch a new business. No, I don’t have time to write a novel. No, I’m not smart enough to learn Chinese.

It can be hard to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes,’ especially if we ourselves are the sources of our own negativity. It’s possible, though, if we work to eliminate the sources of our self-doubt and indecision.

1. Forget What Others (Might) Say

Oftentimes, we tell ourselves ‘no’ because we think our father/sister/best friend might not approve of our actions. First, it’s crucial to remember that we live our own lives, regret and all. Just because someone else tells us not to do something, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Ask yourself why your father/sister/best friend would say ‘no’ and see if reasoning stands up to real scrutiny.

On the flip side, we tend to use our family and friends as easy excuses. If we imagine someone close to us might say ‘no,’ we often won’t bother to explore further. I remember in college I really wanted to study abroad in Japan, but felt my father would disapprove. When I finally worked up the courage to tell him about my aspiration, he became more excited than me. Had I believed in my imaginary dad, I would have missed out on one of the most exciting adventures of my life.

2. Hang Around Positive People

Being around people who have already learned not to tell themselves ‘no’ can benefit you. These positive thinkers will encourage you to try new things, follow your dreams, and motivate you even when you yourself want to avoid trying something new. They can also teach you to pinpoint your worst ‘no’ telling habits to avoid them altogether.

3. Stop Complaining

I’ll be the first to admit that I like to complain – my family, my workplace, whatever. Complaining, though, puts our mind in a position to make more excuses. We are not in charge of our destiny, our situation is. The next time you catch yourself complaining, stop immediately. Think instead of how to solve your problem and then try fixing it. You will be amazed at how small successes can breed a positive outlook on life.

4. Try Something New

A lot of negativity originates from the idea that we can’t do something we’ve never tried before. If you are always trying new things, though, you realize that the world is full of things you’ve never done. Start a new hobby by hopping over to Meetup.com and find a group of people doing something fun in your area. The more you challenge yourself to do new things, the less you will tell yourself ‘No, I can’t do that.’

5. Devote an Hour a Day to your Goals

Everyone, no matter who you are, has dreams and goals, but most people think they don’t have the time to pursue them. Even if you are raising six kids and have two part-time jobs, though, you can always find at least an hour in your day to devote to your passion. How do I know this is true? Because my mom finished college this way, by tackling it a small course at a time over several years. Devoting time to your goals will boost your self-esteem and give you the courage to say ‘yes’ to more goals.

Remember, you never regret spending time doing something positive, but you might regret denying yourself. Try squashing a few negative habits in your life just for a week. You may surprise yourself.

Photo by Fenanov

Deborah Fike

Deborah Fike is the Director of Educational Outreach for Spotkin, an educational games company that marries fun with learning.  She’s also the founder of Avalon Labs, which provides marketing consultations and writing services for start-ups and online businesses.   She carves out a significant portion of her time to raising her two younger daughters.

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