With everything we do, we look for permission. We’re looking for something to allow or tell us it’s “okay” to be, do, or have what we want.

You know that you can’t find that permission outside of yourself. You have to be the one that gives you permission.

And what you secretly really want is to say Yes to yourself.

Yes, I can spend time on my art.
Yes, I can have the relationship that I want.
Yes, I can make as much money as I want.
Yes, I can be as bold and adventurous as I want.
Yes, I can choose to spend my time on the things that make me come alive.

But often, we don’t give ourselves that permission. We come up with reasons why we can’t have it; not yet, anyway. We trick ourselves into thinking that someday we’ll qualify. If we just do this and that prerequisite, we’ll meet the requirements to give ourselves permission. Then we can earn the yes.

And how often does that happen? When we setup the prerequisites, how often do we reach them and then give ourselves permission?

I’m guessing for you, probably not much.

That’s because the stepping stones we’ve created are really an unnecessary crutch. We think some part of us is broken and in order to get that permission, we need to fix something first.

I’m here to tell you that that’s bullshit.

Complete, unfiltered, genuine bullshit.

The stepping stones lead only to more stepping stones. You never actually meet the requirements. And there’s a really good reason for that:

You don’t need them.

If you’re always thinking you need to do something to embrace your power — because that’s what permission really is — then it will always elude you.

You don’t need to do anything. Your power is available to you right now. All you have to do is say yes to it.

That’s the first Yes, and the most important one.

It’s the first step to writing your own permission slip. It’s also the first step to seeing through the need for permission. Because once you realize that you can say yes without a reason, you realize that you don’t really need permission at all.

What have you been wanting to say yes to? Will you say yes today?

photo courtesy of Nick

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Haidn Foster July 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I think I’ll hike a mountain next week… Yes, I will. :-)



Pat Chiappa July 1, 2010 at 5:42 pm

I was JUST talking with a friend who just after she said “if I had my druthers” (then she realized she did have her druthers), “I would write poetry.”

I told her it made me sad when I don’t use my creativity.

Thanks for giving permission for me to do something creative today, and for her to write poetry.

Such a great way to remind us – giving permission.

thanks much


Ian Kanchay July 1, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Yes, I can express what I think.
Yes, I can make as much money as I want.
Yes, I can change my reality instantly.
Yes, I can be powerful beyond measure.
Yes, I can fail, and fiercily learn and go on.


Alex July 1, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I have to tell you something. Earlier this week I was sitting around at home, not really having too much to do since I’m on vacation, and as I pondered about random stuff I thought about exactly what you just wrote in this post. Permission.

Now, I wasn’t able to put it into graspable words like you did, which is why I’m glad I read this, but I have to tell you, each and every one of the times I’ve said, “I need this and that prerequisite” I was fucking bullshitting myself.

Thanks for this.


Chrissy @ Eat Your Career July 2, 2010 at 8:07 am

This post is exactly what I needed today. I’m the type of person who is a complete teacher’s pet. It’s in my nature to seek approval and when I don’t have it, I feel like I’m not worthy or something. I think it’s time to grow up and call bullshit on myself. Thanks for helping with that!


Lizzie July 2, 2010 at 8:36 am

So bloody true. We make our own red tape.


The Dropout Kid July 2, 2010 at 11:05 am

Just say I can and you will. Giving yourself permission can be the hardest task in the world. The second hardest is accepting the new you, who permits him or her self to be the greater than who you used to be. It all takes time. Times heals on wound and can open new door ways to success. Anyday of the week.


S. Ali Myers - Soulful Body & Mind July 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Fear has a big part into our limitations. Fear of failure. Fear of ridicule. Fear of the unknown.

Not to mention are taught feared systems. Fear caused by Religion, media, schools, society, workplace etc. It’s understandable how one could fear letting go of their need for “permission”. But to truly liberate yourself, you must come to grip with YOUR reality. A reality of self. No external force can provoke fear if you do not host it.


Rebecca July 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm

This just made me cry.

Thank you.


Kat Argonza July 3, 2010 at 6:03 am

This sounds a lot like the Nike “Just do it” philosophy. We seem to just get in the way of ourselves all the bloody time, that we’re held immobile. When we’re asked why we’re not doing something, so many of us qualify and make excuses! It makes me crazy.


Scott Dinsmore July 3, 2010 at 9:03 am

Well put Jonathan! The best advice I’ve ever heard on the subject is that “you never get there”. You will always want more, to do more, to have more experience, you name it. Once you come to grips with that fact that “there” is something you never reach, then you can get right down to doing instead of putting off!

Thanks so much Jonathan,


Joe Wilner July 3, 2010 at 10:29 am

Great post! I was always told to have a back-up plan or take the practical route. I followed this form for much of my life and felt safe and logical. It took much experience and education to learn the true potential I have, and to develop the willingness to take risks in order to follow my passion. I’m am much more enthusiastic today because of this.


Jens P. Berget July 4, 2010 at 6:05 am

Great advice, at first I thought it was from Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketing.. but it wasn’t :)

I have done something I never thought I would do, I have given myself permission to write a novel. From 1 August, I’ll leave work without pay to do what I want to do. I’m not sure where this will end, but I’m excited…


Joshua Noerr July 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I think in most things, begging forgiveness is better than asking permission. With yourself though, it doesn’t quite work that way.

We need to spend more of our time allowing ourselves to be ourselves (that was teetering on the edge of not coming out right). Great post, and thanks.


kelly July 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Kat nailed it for me when she said ” We seem to just get in the way of ourselves all the bloody time, that we’re held immobile.”

I am always getting in my own way – “someday I will do this and someday I will do that. No, I have to have this job because it has health insurance, benefits, etc.” My life is a series of somedays and the “5-year plan” – but at least I recognize that now and realize the negative impact is has on my soul.


Modern Day Serf July 6, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I think we get caught up on our “steps” because we have spent most of our lives asking others – teachers, parents, friends, bosses – for permission or approval. Our default setting is to ask others for permission or an opinion instead of asking ourselves what’s right for us.

So I totally agree that you have to give yourself permission, but I would add that consciously rejecting the inclination to seek outside “expert” advice is a good way to start the process.

Thanks for the post.


Mike Roberts July 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Man, I try like hell to hold myself back in this area. I’ve grown so conditioned to saying “yes” to everything that I want, that I have to be careful what I wish for, cause most likely, it’s going to happen.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way and I remember very clearly the times in my life when I said “NO” to everything I wanted. I always had a perfect excuse for why I didn’t deserve whatever it was that I wanted. This line of thinking sucked.

Love the title…”write your own permission slip”. It’s a beautiful way to live for sure



Percival J. Meris July 6, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Perhaps, the tendency for most of us to ask permission stems from our subjection to authority figures when we were growing up. We have not outgrown this tendency.

Another is the importance of complying with the policies of an institution to where we belong during our adulthood. This is being carried out to our own private lives. If we comply faithfully with the institution’s policies, there will no need to ask permission.

We should distinguish the above situations from making decisions affecting our private lives. It has been said that he who still needs to ask permission relinquishes control of his life to others.

Why do people still ask permission? Is it because they know or doubt that what they will do is not right? Do what is right, and you don’t have to ask permission.


Jacques July 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm

I think the “permission slip” we write for ourselves, also determines the heights (or lows?) that we will reach in this life. I truly believe that we will never outperform our own expectations of ourselves, and if that expectation is mediocrity, then that’s exactly what I will get! I think it was Enstein that once said, “Whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can’t, either way, you are right!” Oh, how sadly we hold ourselves back by our own thinking!


Joshua Black | The Underdog MIllionaire July 8, 2010 at 10:14 am

Writing your own permission slip is the key to success. The winnings go to the persistent, the ones that were willing to take risks and to keep marching even when things get really bad.

The ones that sat around an waited for someone to tell them that it’s ok are still waiting…

-Joshua Black
The Underdog Millionaire


Matt July 10, 2010 at 7:53 am

Great Post Jonathan.

One habit I picked up from the book “Get Clients Now” is the “monthly special permission”.

Every month, I give myself permission to do one thing that I normally don’t do. If ever I find myself questioning it, all I have to do is remind myself it’s just for the month :). If, at the end of the month, I find I actually liked it, then well… I give myself permission the next month as well.

It’s an awesome habit to take up.


Lachlan Cotter July 21, 2010 at 6:50 am

It’s so true that man makes his own prison from his limiting beliefs. When you go far enough down the rabbit hole, you find that all limitations are imaginary.

A few years back I found myself working in an office after 18 months of freelancing and international travel. I’d learned a lot during that time. Especially about reinventing my paradigms for work and life. Being in business for yourself teaches you a lot about life in general. Experiencing the office again after that paradigm shift I was really struck by the attitudes of the other employees. It was like going back in time I guess to when I must have been more like that. But after my taste of freedom and independence the old ways were really stifling to me. I went remote again after a brief stint and haven’t looked back.


Jon_Mills September 23, 2011 at 6:48 am

Excellent post Jonathan, its very true.

Mine is related to script/novel writing. While my days are filled with doing copywriting for people, I have a number of side projects that I do such as affiliate marketing and wordpress plugin development ( hopefully moving into iphone apps soon ) but I do find these can consume my time, leaving me with less room for what I really enjoy spending my time doing, which is spinning stories. I rationalize in my head that I need to focus on what pays vs what doesn’t but the only way I can hope to see script/novel writing pay is to focus attention on it. I tend to not give as much permission to the script/novel writing aspect of my life

Anyway its a weird balancing act where my regular work from home copywriting service tends to win

Its time to say yes more to script/novel writing and no to taking on jobs for clients


SheThinksFunny October 29, 2011 at 8:28 am

I’ve given myself permission to stop seeking answers outside myself. Stop feeling so insecure that I don’t know enough, that there’s something looming obvious that others know which I don’t.

I was searching high and low for a mentor; couldn’t find one that suited me.

I was comparing myself to everyone and ALWAYS coming up short.

I was lost and scattered in a thousand directions from listening to all the advice from the all-knowing gurus.

Then this came to me in meditation:

I am my own sage.

I am my own measure.

I am my own compass.

I still feel lost at times and wonder about what I don’t know I don’t know. But I’ve decided to look for the answers in my own heart before looking for the right guru, the right article, the right website to give it to me.

Thanks for writing this, Jonathan! :-)


livelovework November 15, 2011 at 5:58 am

Thank you for this wonderful inspiration today! I’m going to start my day giving myself permission to have a great day!

I often find it’s equally useful to give myself permission to have an occasional bad day, too. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, I don’t have a good day or a good attitude and that’s okay, too.

Accepting myself is a first step in using my power to create greatness in my life. I will do what I can, and let go of what I can’t.



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