So far this month we’ve talked about two big things that help me keep my life in balance. Having a good day job helps, and trying to get a little bit done every day is huge. But there’s one more big secret.
Yes and No are the most important words in your vocabulary. But you’re probably using them wrong.
I want you to do a little experiment with me. Grab your bullet journal, flip to the next two empty pages, write yes on one page and no on the other. Now, for the next week, write down the things you said yes and no to. No judging, just detailing your habits.
If you’re like me, you’re probably saying yes to a lot of things. To working overtime, to helping with chores you shouldn’t be responsible for, to taking on more responsibilities, to a boring meal you aren’t excited about because it’s easy. We say yes because we feel like we should, or because we don’t want to offend people. And it’s not just things that others ask of us. Sometimes it’s things that we ask of ourselves. One big thing I’ve asked of myself is to enter a ton of writing contests. I love them, and they’re fun. But I said yes to too many. I said yes to way too many sweets, and too much gaming, and a lot of things that I just didn’t need in my life. I said yes to reading books I had no interest in, because I felt like I should read them.
I am trying to stop that. Instead, I’m trying to say yes to things I really want to do. Sometimes that is helping out my friends, and even picking up some hours at the day job. But more often it’s yes to new foods, new books, new experiences, new music. I am saying yes to reading as much as I want and good coffee instead of junk food. I am saying yes to playing with my monsters more. I am saying yes to watching scary movies on the weekends.
Now, about no. I have a fun story about the day I learned to use no.
My mother was getting a new couch. There was nothing wrong with her old couch, she just wanted a new one. Such is my mother. But she didn’t want to have the old couch, which belonged to my great grandmother before she passed, hauled away. So she wanted me to take it.
Now, I already had a couch. It was blue, and huge, and comfortable. It was broken in all the right places. But, being the people pleaser that I was, I agreed to get rid of my awesome couch and take the one that she wanted to get rid of in it’s place.
The night before my uncle was going to come and swap the furniture, I started to cry. Just bawl, at the thought of losing my couch. I thought, what the hell is the point of saying yes when it makes me this miserable? My mom’s happy, but I’m sure not. Did I really want to replace a couch that was worn with love for one that was itchy and uncomfortable? No, I don’t want it. So I called my mom and told her I had no intention of taking the couch.
I still remember that sick feeling when I was going to have to give up something I wanted for something I didn’t want. And I listen for it. If someone asks me to do something, and I feel that sick feeling, I say no. And I don’t explain.
This is the secret behind Yes and No. Don’t explain to anyone but yourself why you used one or the other. When someone asks something of you, or when an opportunity introduces itself, think about it, then say yes or no. Because it’s a sad fact that for everything you say yes to, you must say no to something else.
Now, let’s go back to your list. At the end of the week, take a look at your yeses. Are there any on there you wish you’d said no to? What about your nos? Any disappointments there?
Oh, and as a final thought, I have something to say about ‘I’m Sorry.’ Only say it of you mean it, say it fast when you should, and never say it over what you decide to say yes and no to.