Last week’s post was all about saying, “no,” so this week’s post is about saying, “yes!” How often have you let an opportunity pass you by because you were afraid, or tired, or not sure it was the right choice?
While those might seem like good reasons to let something go on the surface, it could be that you using those reasons to justify a course of action that is not ultimately in your best interest.
Even small opportunities can be challenging. You might not want to go to a party where you don’t know anyone but the hostess (even if it is just a Zoom party). But if you don’t go, you might miss out on making a new friend.
You might really want to for a bike ride on an unusually warm and sunny Sunday, right in the middle of winter. But you haven’t even started lesson planning for the week and there are a ton of household chores that aren’t going to do themselves.
Then there are those big, life-changing opportunities. Teaching a new grade level may look like a lot of work in July, but by October you might realize that this is your absolute favorite grade to teach, something you would not have known had you not taken the chance.
Life is full of chances to say yes, but making that commitment is not always easy. When a chance to say yes to a new opportunity or experience comes your way, here are some things to consider:
1. Consider the Timing
A few years ago, I really wanted to go to an art workshop, but I already had a commitment that weekend. The truly sucky part was that the commitment wasn’t even something I wanted to attend – my husband’s nephew’s wedding. But skipping it was not a viable option. So, no workshop for me. But then it occurred to me that the workshop might be offered at another time. Sure enough, there was another one 6 months later!
You may have another commitment, you may be having a really busy week, or month or year. You may be in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.
Some things really are a one-time opportunity, but others will come around again, possibly at a better time.
2. Consider the Source
Sometimes, you may want to say yes, but find yourself feeling anxious about it. Perhaps a little imposter syndrome is making an unwanted appearance or you are doubting your skillset.
If you are not sure if you are up to whatever is required, think about where this opportunity is coming from. Did someone who believes in you bring it to your attention? If they believe in you, then maybe you should too. On the other hand, if the request is coming from someone you don’t trust or who you feel uneasy about for other reasons, you might want to pass.
3. Consider the Possible Outcomes
One helpful exercise can be to ask yourself what is the best and worst thing that could happen if you say yes. A T-chart will work well for this. List all the possibilities, even the unlikely ones. In addition to helping to clarify your thoughts, you might also discover some outcomes you would not have considered if you had not done the exercise.
If you know you would seriously regret an outcome that has a fair probability of becoming reality, it might be time to bail. This was the case for us with a trip we had planned. For us, the idea of contracting Covid or unknowingly exposing older friends and relatives made the trip too risky and we bailed.
Conversely, you may look at the other side of the list and decide that the best outcome is not only attainable but something you really want. Then, when things get challenging, you can remind yourself of why you said yes to begin with and what the end result will be if you just stay the course.
4. Consider What You will Need to Say No to
When you say yes to something new, you are probably saying no to something else, possibly a lot of things. For example, if you say yes to a big commitment like graduate school, you are likely saying no to family time, less stress, and Time to do things you love.
Even small yesses involve saying no. If you say yes to staying up late to watch the last two episodes in the season, you are saying no to a good night’s sleep and to being at your best the next day.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say yes, it just means you should consider the sacrifices that making room for that new thing will require. I sincerely hope that you are not still trying to fool yourself into thinking that you can do it all. Spoiler: you can’t.
5. Consider Your Feelings
If you want to say no because you are afraid, analyze your feelings and see if your fear is grounded in reality. Sometimes we get all wrapped up in what seems like a giant source of anxiety but turns out to be no big deal.
Does it make your heart go pitter-patter? Maybe it is scary because it ties right into something you are passionate about. Author Derek Silvers says that when you are considering a new opportunity, it needs to be either, “Hell Yeah, or no.”
Bonus Trick: If you are really struggling with a decision. Try flipping a coin. Pretend you really are going to let the coin decide. When you see that head or tail come up, check your first response. Do you feel excited? Relieved? A sense of impending dread? Overcome with joy? Your feeling in that moment may be the answer you are searching for.
Remember, no is a show-stopper. Sometimes that is the right choice, but if you want to latch onto new opportunities, they are probably not hanging out in your living room. There really is something to that idea about leaving your comfort zone.
If you want to dig deeper into saying yes, you might want to read My Year of Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, which is not only inspiring but also entertaining.
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