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December 16, 2015

Why Saying “Yes” to Everything is Getting Us Nowhere

Do you feel overwhelmed, like you have way too much on your plate and you’re not enjoying the moment?  You are not alone!

I think Stapleton is full of well-intentioned, type A “achievers”.  For the most part that’s a good thing, right?  But to some extent it’s a problem, especially if we say yes to so many things that we forget what’s important.

We’re stressed, depleted and exhausted which is unfortunate because we have so much to be thankful for!  I think part of the problem is we say yes to too many things.

Can you help at the kids school?   Yes

Can you make it to wine night?  Yes

Can you bring the kids over for a play date?  Yes

Can you make it to our kid’s birthday party?  Yes

Can we stay at your house for the weekend while we’re in town?  Yes

Should we enroll the kids in swim, dance, gymnastics, karate, soccer?  Yes, yes, yes (you get the point!)

The tough thing is everything on this list is good and I’m glad we get a lot of these opportunities.  But that said, if we say yes to everything we just end up tired and irritated.  (and so do the kids!)

I hear a lot of people complain about how busy they are (and I do it too!) but the truth is we have a choice in what we do.  No one is sneaking into our iphones and adding things to our calendars!  (Although my wife did that once and the recurring weekly appointment she put on there read “Buy my wife a gift”!)

So if we’re stressed and tired why do we do it?  Why do we book ourselves so full?  I think there are a few reasons.

First, I think we like to use “busyness” as a badge of honor.  We think we sound important when we complain about how busy we are but really no one cares.

Second, I think when we’re busy we don’t have focus on the larger, more significant items we should work on.  Easier to just run around and check the low hanging fruit items off the checklist.  (I know I am guilty of this one…it makes me feel productive but its not that important)

Third, and by far the most important in my opinion, is we lack a vision for what we want our lives to look like.  Do you have written goals, a vision for what you want you life to look like, or a purpose statement to stand by?  That stuff may sound cheesy but if we don’t know where we’re trying to go life will just pull us in all different directions.  (wake up in the morning and check your email…someone will give you something to work on!)

By having a vision for what you want your life to be you will be prepared to say no to the opportunities that come along that don’t move you closer to your vision.  If you envision a life with more family time you’ll know what to say when you have the choice between a non-critical networking event and a quiet night at home with family.  The vision is your roadmap, your filter for all decisions regarding your schedule.  Is the opportunity getting you closer or further from your vision?  What are you saying no to by saying yes to the opportunity in front of you.  Pause and count the costs.

So if you do need to say no more, how do you do so without sounding like a jerk?  The best way I heard (courtesy of Michael Hyatt) is “I’d love to help but I can’t say yes to this opportunity and be faithful to my other commitments.  I need to pass but thank you”.  Easy, not apologetic and true.

Just because an opportunity is good is not enough, it needs to fit into your plan and your vision for your life.

So what if you’re on the fence about an opportunity, should you say yes or no?  I heard some good advice from Derek Sivers, your answer to an opportunity “should either be a hell yes or a no.”  Nothing in between.  I think that’s wise, go all in or politely say no right up front, don’t say yes just to please someone else.

I’m not saying only do things you want to do, maybe your vision is to help others and serve…great!  Just be intentional about what you say yes to, don’t drift around trying to do everything.

If this post resonates with you and you want to dig deeper below are three resources related to this topic I have found extremely helpful.  I am by no means the expert on this topic (I have many days that get away from me where I let myself drift!) but I have become more aware and become better at saying no to opportunities that don’t align with my vision.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Simplify by Bill Hybels

This is Your Life Podcast by Michael Hyatt (specifically Season 3 Episode 12 and Season 6 Episode 4)

If you invest the time to consume one of these three resources I’m confident you’ll get better about aligning your calendar with your vision.  I know they have helped me on the journey.

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