I’m the yes girl, I say yes to almost everything asked of me. The only time I ever say no is if I’m already committed at the same time or if I don’t think I could actually do what is being asked of me. There are just some things I am not capable of doing- like lifting 100lbs. Truth is, even when I’m already committed I still try to figure out ways to work things around so I can say yes. Really, I’m only saying no when I cannot do what is being asked. Not many people are asking me to lift heavy things so I’m literally saying yes to everything.
Being reliable and dependable are awesome things. I enjoyed that people could ask me to do things and feel confident that I would get it done. I felt needed and I love that feeling. Being needed was like a subconscious life goal. I didn’t plan to make that a life goal, but I was constantly doing things to make it happen. It was like in order to be okay, I needed to be needed.
What I didn’t realize was that in all my yes saying, I was saying no to others. I was saying no to me and my dreams. My real dreams. The dreams and goals I felt like God was putting on my heart. I was saying no to more time with my family. I was saying no to time with my little man. I was saying no to date nights with my husband. None of these things I set out intentionally to do. I was filling up my schedule with other yeses that when it came time to plan out family time or date nights, there was no room for me to fit it in. I tried to, I tried so hard to make everything fit into the 168 hours I got in a week. I was constantly stressed and feeling like I wasn’t putting my all into everything because I was being pulled in so many directions. Did I mention that I was working full time and a full-time student? It was like my subconscious thought there were over 200 hours in a week the way I tried to schedule everything.
The thing about time is that you cannot make more of it. You have what you have and that’s it. It is up to us how we spend our time.
So one day, it hit me that how I was doing life, all this saying yes and jumping up to volunteer for every little thing wasn’t working. I was having horrible anxiety and health issues and something had to give. So I did what I know best, I sat down with a journal to write it all out.
There is a really good book that was given to me a few years ago as a gift. “The Best Yes” by Lisa Terkeurst. (Even my friends knew I said yes too much and were trying to give me tools to realize it.) In this book, Lisa talks about commitments and how to stop and really think about what we’re deciding to do before we just answer all willy nilly. The book challenged me to only be saying yes to the best things I could be doing. She talks about a good / better / best list and how to rank things. She gives examples of how things can still be good things to do but it doesn’t mean that it’s our best. The challenge is to start saying yes to only our best, to the things God has truly called us to do. The book was very eye-opening for me.
So when I grabbed my journal to write everything out and dump it from my brain, the idea for a good / better / best list came to mind. That is exactly what I did. I made a list of everything I was currently committed to and doing. I listed out the upcoming things that I had already said yes to. I also made a list of all the things I was saying no to, that I felt like I needed to be doing. All the dreams and goals I had that I was putting on my back burner because I was too busy saying yes to everything else. I wrote down more time with my little man and husband because I felt like I never saw them. I took my two lists, separated out my good / better / best sections and began to fill in the spaces. I took each item from each list and categorized them. It was shocking how many things I had said yes to or even things I had been doing for a while, a commitment I had for years, ended up not being my best yes. It was a good thing I was doing, but it still wasn’t my best.
Categorizing wasn’t easy. I wanted to believe everything I was doing was my best but it wasn’t. I had to really think about what I wanted to accomplish in my life and what really mattered. I had to be completely honest with myself and sometimes I had to ask why I was doing certain things in the first place. Was I doing it because I’m supposed to be the person doing it? Did I volunteer for something because there was a need and I just jumped in? Realizing the motivation behind some of my yeses helped me realize they didn’t belong in my best section.
After I had moved everything in my lists to a section, I had to do the hard part. As I was categorizing everything I thought it was hard, I wanted everything to be the best. I wanted more hours in the day. I wanted to make it so that I could do it all. However, I am not superwoman. So once my sections were finalized, I looked at my sections, and I made one of the hardest decisions I’ve made. I decided that everything that wasn’t in my best section I was giving up. This might sound easy for some people, but as the person who loved to be needed and said yes to things before the question was finished, this was the opposite of what came naturally to me. I didn’t want to let people down or feel like a failure. I didn’t want to hurt people by saying no or that they needed to ask someone else.
The truth is that I might have not even been the person who was meant to say yes to all the things anyway. Just because I can say yes doesn’t mean I should say yes. I also shouldn’t be saying yes before really thinking about things. It’s completely okay to tell someone maybe and you’ll get back to them. Not everything needs an immediate decision.
So I stepped down from some things. I went to people and said it was time for me to take a break from some other things. I started to prioritize the best section. It was a decision I had to make and then follow through with. It wasn’t easy, even after stepping down from the things and freeing up some time. Sometimes, I wonder if I say yes so I can do the easy things, things people think I’m good at so I don’t have to chase after the hard stuff I feel called to do.
I’m in a place now where I am doing my best yeses. I am considering everything that is involved when I get asked to do something and whether or not I’m actually the person who should be doing it. This wasn’t an easy place to get to. It’s not an easy place to stay either. I see myself starting to go back to old habits, old ways of managing my time and when I catch myself doing that, I immediately tell myself to stop. I take a moment away from all the things I am putting in my calendar and really ask myself what I should be doing. Just because there is a blank spot in my calendar doesn’t mean it needs to be filled. Dreams are what happens when there are empty spaces.