We live in an era where our plates are overflowing with commitments. More is expected of women than ever before. I think the pressure to say Yes, started way back when we were in elementary school — navigating the playground, canvasing the campus with spirit week activities, and busy sports schedules. Though then it didn’t seem as overwhelming. Now as adults, the duties that are asked of us can be more than we can manage. Yet, we tend to say that three-letter word oh, so quickly. YES.
I often ask my clients if they have ‘always available syndrome.’ This is a fictitious condition of which one always says Yes and usually without thinking about what is really being asked of them. When I ask the question, the reaction is always one of laughter, like I’m going to follow it up with a punch line, but when the words sink in they tilt their head with revolutionary thought and become a bit more sheepish. Hum. Maybe I do?
Now, don’t take this article the wrong way. It is so, so, so wonderful to have the ministry of availability. To be able to have the ability and the means to say ‘Yes’ when asked. Our hearts and hands want to help and it’s such a wonderful thing to do. We need people to volunteer to make things function. We need to pull our weight and help our companies and families succeed.
It’s so important to say Yes. Sometimes.
But how, when, and why should you say No? Consider one of these concepts to help you determine if you should add more commitments to your plate.
What’s the cause & effect?
There is a cause and effect to every single choice we make. No matter how big or small the choice. When I started thinking about my choices this way, it gave me a visual to help even the scale. [and maybe the guilt, too] It helped me see that if this, then what? See the bigger picture of the choice and remember it doesn’t just affect you.
3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months
How will you feel about your choice in 3 days? How will you feel about it in 3 weeks? In the moment we may really want to say Yes. Or we may really want to say No. Consider how you feel about the choice in the near and distant future. Have realistic perspective to your choices.
Every Yes = a No
Every time you say Yes, you are saying No to something else. Guaranteed. You may not realize you are saying No to something, but sometimes when we say Yes out of obligation, we are missing out on some other great opportunity. It could be an additional opportunity we wouldn’t have otherwise had, or it could be something you’re already doing, like family meals, bedtime, or your only ten moments of silence you get in a week. By saying Yes, what are you saying No to? Is the trade off worth it?
Opportunity for others
There’s some floating statistic that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Volunteer and workforce, included. If you’re the 20%, consider if this could be an opportunity that would be best for someone else to take on. We all receive by giving, so it may be someone else’s turn to give. If you don’t feel you should say yes, maybe go the extra step and find someone new to get plugged in.
Am I prioritizing myself?
Saying No can feel selfish. I know, I’m a Yes person. But by always saying Yes, we don’t prioritize our own health. We need to prioritize ourselves so that we can be healthy enough to take on those other Yes opportunities when it’s our turn. Our families and friends want us to be healthy. We are no good to anyone when we don’t take care of ourselves.
Stop the fear
Ultimately, I think we make choices out of fear. I’m not really sure what we are afraid of, though. Fear we aren’t doing our part, we will be judged, we will be left out, we won’t be asked again, we’ll be left behind. Stop the fear-motivated choices and consider the bigger picture.
I was taught, “let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.” Be committed and follow through. Be intentional about each choice.