There Are No Solutions, Only Trade-offs

Saying yes means saying no.

November 22, 2022

“There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.” — Thomas Sowell

Whenever you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to another. That’s the definition of a trade-off. Whenever you are presented with a new opportunity, project or idea to pursue, clearly answer the question of what you are saying no to as a consequence. You could be saying no to more time with your family and friends, a balanced amount of sleep, or even a healthy diet. There’s a hidden cost to saying yes, and you need to be aware of it to make better decisions in your life.

As Thomas Sowell, an American economist shared1, there are no solutions but only trade-offs. When someone comes to you with a solution to a problem, you are implicitly always saying no to an alternative solution. This is not an inherently bad thing, but just a pitfall in your decision-making to be aware of. So always ask yourself when you’re saying yes to one thing: “What am I saying no to as a consequence?”.