I hate scary movies.
Always have, always will.
But somehow I found myself in a cold, dark theater, legs balled up on my chair, hiding my head under the hood of my sweatshirt, trying to block the gruesome sounds of the horror flick I’d agreed to see. Yeah, and did I mention I was an adult? Oy….
I REALLY didn’t want to go. But I said yes anyways, because that’s what I did. My pattern was people-pleasing, and I did it without a moment’s thought.
Now the crappy thing about saying yes when we’d really prefer to say no (besides barely being able to take my trash can to the curb after dark for the next three months) is that automatic yeses suck our time and energy, and yes - even destroy our dreams.
Now you might be thinking, “a little dramatic much, Jewell? I mean, come on - you were just talking about saying yes to go see a movie.”
And to that I say, nope. Not even a little.
See, it wasn’t just saying yes to a movie. It was a pattern.
The Yes Habit
Saying yes without even hesitating is something that a lot of us do habitually.
No judgement here, by the way. We say yes to things we don’t want to for a bunch of reasons. Maybe we feel obligated and feel guilty saying no. And lots of times we say yes because we like to help people. It’s a nice thing to do.
But the issue arises when we’re saying yes automatically, without taking the time to consider how it will affect our bigger picture.
Saying yes on autopilot means we often agree to do things that don’t fit our schedules and our goals. When we do that, we often end up overextended and don’t have enough left to give to our own goals, or even the people we love.
And that means we’re not anywhere closer to having the life we wanted than when we first woke up that morning.
Now, I completely understand that there are some things we feel we absolutely HAVE TO DO. And we’ll get more into that topic on another day. What I’d like to talk about here is just turning off the auto-yes.
Breaking the Habit
Like all habits, the knee-jerk-yes is something that we do practically without thinking, and can be difficult to break.
Here are some things that help me with this:
1) Create space.
Look, just like there’s no rule that you have to answer every text and phone call right when it comes in, you don’t have to commit as soon as someone asks you.
I’ve been replacing the auto-yes with something that gives me time to see a) what I have time for, and b) how I actually feel about doing the thing.
For example, one of my go-tos is “What a great idea. Let me check my schedule / what I’ve already committed to / if I can make that work and get back to you.”
And then really get back to the person, unless you just want things between you to get incredibly awkward and unpleasant. Again, no judgement.
Now that you’ve bought yourself some space to process, the next two steps will help you decide whether or not you want to say yes.
2) Recognize the value of your time.
Of all the things we have in our lives. Time is one of the only non-renewing resource. We get it once. And we only have so many moments available in our lives (a little morbid, maybe - but true). When we think about time this way, it helps us see the value of it more.
And of all the things I’ve done, this one perspective shift has made a big difference in helping me be more deliberate about where I invest a “yes.”
3) Know what you want.
I’m talking big picture here. What do you want out of life? What cool things do you want to do? What goals are on your bucket list? Once you have an idea about the things that are really important to you, you can create your goals and a plan to reach them. Then you’ll be able to better assess just how much time you have to put towards other things, and if you actually do want to say yes to the request. Or shoot, you might even come up with a compromise solution that works for everyone. Win win!
Alrighty, well those are the things I’ve done to help with my automatic yes syndrome. Of course sometimes I still relapse - old habits and all…. But the more you become intentional in handling requests for your time, the easier and more natural it will become.
Have a fabulous week!