"NO!" Shouts my toddler. He doesn't know what he wants...but he firmly knows what he doesn't want.
I try everything. Banana? NO! Applesauce? NO! Goldfish? NO! He isn't going to settle for anything until the right thing comes along.
For most humans under 3 feet tall, it is their favorite word, NO! It can be frustrating and alarming to adults to hear it over and over. But that toddler is not going to settle for anything less than the perfect item. The only way out of the cycle is to help that toddler discover what they want at the moment.
So when do you lose that desire for the perfect thing? When do we start fearing NO, and saying yes to most things? In life, we start to compile commitments by saying "yes" to everything we "should" do. Like dirty laundry, our commitments start to pile up, and no matter how hard it is we are compelled to say YES.
It started for me when I hit about 5'6 inches tall...when I felt I had something to prove and didn't have clarity on what I wanted. Instead of saying no and evaluating what I wanted or needed, I just said yes.
Said yes so I didn't disappoint an important person.
Said yes so that I felt important.
Said yes so that I didn't appear afraid.
Said yes so that I didn't miss the perfect opportunity.
So what's so bad about saying yes? Most of the time it works out. It is alright. But is it amazing, intentional, or true to our purpose, our internal mission statement? Unless we discover how to be intentional with our "Yes," we won't know how to say no. When we agree to things that are not in alignment with our purpose and our talents it takes extra energy to stay committed, to complete the task. And that is mental energy that we don't have to spare.
So how do we discover when to say yes? One clue if it isn't an enthusiastic 'YES' maybe it should be a no...or at least a response that allows you more time to decide, 'I am going to take some time to think about it, can I get back to you?'
A decision matrix that helps can help you clarify if it is an enthusiastic yes, or a just say no!
If the ask of your time aligns with your values and utilizes your strengths, then, with intention, say yes! When these items fill our calendar and task list, it is amazing how energizing and fun it becomes. We feel more accomplished, more connected, and more engaged when we know that our plate is full of items that are aligned with our purpose and strengths.
The pandemic forced us to say no to many things that were routine in our lives. Hopefully, through that time, we have re-committed what is really important. As we start to emerge back out into the world, be intentional with your YES. Don't let obligation or sense of duty let your calendar pile up like dirty laundry again. Gain confidence in your ability to decline an invitation, task, or commitment that doesn't align with your purpose. And when you do commit to something, it will add value to your life and those around you.
Heather Erikson is a Leadership Coach and Consultant, passionate about putting ideas into action by giving people and teams the tools they need to achieve their goals. She is skilled in team development, strategic planning, Training, and Consulting.
As a life-long resident of North Idaho, she enjoys outdoor activities, boating, hiking, berry picking, and is dedicated to serving the local community through volunteer service. She is currently serving on the KROC Center Advisory Board. She holds a graduate degree in Adult Learning and Leadership from the University of Idaho and an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Lewis-Clark State College.