What are you saying YES to?
Seems like there are an almost infinite number of requests and opportunities that cross our paths every day. Your boss wants a report. A friend invites you for a walk. You should get to the gym. Someone on your team needs help. And on and on it goes. We say yes or no to dozens of things without giving it much thought.
Our lives are the shape of our collective Yeses and Nos. If I say yes to getting the report done, I’m saying no to time with my family. If I say yes to yoga class, I’m saying no to a meeting. This collection of Yeses and Nos IS my life. As a leader, you will always face more things that need doing than you have the capacity to do.
Once we acknowledge that we have a choice, we’re in a more empowered position. If I acknowledge that saying yes to getting that report done includes saying no to dinner with the kids or a good night’s sleep, I can choose. There are consequences to whatever choice I make, but I do get to choose.
Here’s a simple first step.
Try this experiment. See what you notice in yourself as you say each of these things.
First say "I have to get this done tonight." Say it out loud if you can – say it like you mean it. Notice what you feel in your body, in your energy. How is it for you to say “I have to?”
Now say "I choose to complete this report tonight." Again out loud, like you mean it. Do you notice any difference in your energy, in your body? How is it for you to know you are making a choice? Now bring that practice to life every time a new request pops up.
When you own the choice, you own the power over your life. Maybe you’re only choosing to say yes to the report because otherwise your boss may think you’re a slacker. But it’s still your choice. You choose the consequences of lost sleep over the consequences of not completing the report on time.
Sure, there may be push back. But having those conversations is part of leadership.
What will this do for you?
First, there’s power in owning the choice. You reclaim your personal power. You’ll feel more in control of your life, less burned out. And it’s likely that you will begin to say no to a few more things and your “to do list” will get more manageable.
In the end, your overall performance in your job and the quality of your life outside of work will improve as you focus intentionally on the things that matter most.
Dr. Linda Ford has logged over 30,000 hours helping leaders achieve their goals. She has provided executive coaching, culture consulting, and strategic planning for hundreds of successful leaders. She comes to this work with 15 years experience working in large organizations, over 25 years consulting experience, and a PhD in Human and Organization Systems. Linda works simultaneously at the individual, team, and organization level to help each organization achieve its goals.