October 12, 2023
What does your yes cost?
Several years ago I read a book called, “The Best Yes.” It was written by a woman named Lysa Terkeurst. Recently I have been feeling like I needed a refresher, so again I found myself back in the pages. Throughout the book, she shares the weight our “yeses” carry. When we say yes to one person, or job, or volunteer opportunity we have to say no to something else in order to make the yes come to fruition. There is always a cost associated with the yes. In a fast-paced, busy driven world that begs for so much of our time, attention, money, volunteer hours, work time, we can be blinded by the sheer wall of “asks” that are coming our way everyday. I used to be a yes person. Better put, I am a recovering yes person. Need a room mom, ask Jen. Need someone to help with the Fall fundraiser, I’m your girl. Need help organizing the teacher luncheon? Soccer team mom? Leader for a MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) group? Taking on a part-time job? Childcare volunteer? (Once I even said yes to being the Treasurer of a Mom’s Club, anyone who knows me will laugh at this because I am so not a math person!)
Of course I was called on the regular, because I said YES!
The problem became, every time I said yes to one more thing it forced me to rearrange my life and say no to something else. Usually time with my kids. I’d say yes to bringing a family a dinner, but then take my kids through the drive thru. I’d take on another client and park my kids in front of the TV so I could make calls. I was trying to check all the boxes I thought I was supposed to, but ultimately I became so burned out. Not to mention my own three kids and their activities, homework, plus daily life. The burnout started to creep in right before the pandemic. When the shutdown became official, my silver lining was I could just be home.
Of course pandemic living had its own set of challenges and having two kids on Zoom school was a special kind of crazy, plus a three year old!, but I also started to see with great clarity the consequences of all the yeses I had given away and how the ripple effect trickled down through my family. On paper everything I had said yes to was good. But the problem became I said yes to everyone else, before checking in with myself and the needs of my family first. I was short-changing my kids, they were getting an exhausted mom with very little patience. And for myself, I wasn’t sleeping enough or exercising or eating healthy foods. I was on auto-pilot most of the time and not present with the people right in front of me.
Clearly, I’m still in recovery mode because this past year, I agreed to be the team mom for seven…yes, SEVEN teams (soccer, softball, all-star softball, etc.) on top of teaching music at a TK-8th grade school and I still have three kids! Ha! I am declaring it right now, I will never do that again! I’m sure you have your list of all the things you have to do and tackle. Sometimes we have to walk through our decisions to see how to course correct in the future. I think that is the magic of yes.
We can shape our lives by saving our yes for the things that are truly important to us.
For me, I made a list. I am a visual person and by seeing my tangible list, I was better able to prioritize where I wanted to spend my time and resources. As we already mentioned, life is ever changing. In certain seasons we will have more yeses to give than others and it is up to us to be OK with that reality and not feel guilty when we know it is best for us to say no.
I started to realize that my best yes also included saying yes to my phone. To texting, social media, checking emails and all the other things my phone beckons. Instead of my phone being my assistant, it became my master, incessantly alerting me to a received text or some other kind of notification. A quick glance to my watch to see a text, meant breaking eye contact. My “aha moment!” came when I found myself checking my phone, even while one of my girls was mid-story. Saying yes to the person on the other end of the device, required me to compromise time with my precious daughters. The realization broke my heart. My children are too important for me to make them feel less than because my phone demanded my attention. If I want them to grow up feeling valued, then I have to show them they are worthy of my undivided attention. It comes down to the basics: eye contact, taking an interest and genuinely listening to them. It’s a beautiful thing when we feel heard, whether we are 4 or 40 years old, we want to feel like we matter and what an incredible gift we can give one another just by actively listening and being present. A somewhat subtle yes, with such a huge impact.
What do you need to say no to so you can save your best yes?
When I ask myself this question, I go back to my Best Yes List. If the ask aligns and I have time/energy to do it, then it is a yes, otherwise it’s a quick no. From personal experience, I have learned the longer I wait to say no, the harder it becomes and the pressure starts to rise to say yes. If you know you can’t, just say no. For me, the relief is palpable. Then when I do say yes, it feels good because it is something I truly want to spend my time and efforts on. Even as I type this post, I am getting email alerts to volunteer, maybe you are wrestling with this too. I understand. It can be so hard to say no. We all want to help, even when it costs us. But let me wrap my arms around you and assure you that saying yes to yourself and your family is your best yes.
This Fall I want to explore how to Live Well (not perfectly!)
What does it look like to Live Well in this season of loving (and raising!) kids, working, building a strong marriage, growing in faith, strengthening friendships, prioritizing health and finding as much joy as possible. Join me!
Thank you! I’m so grateful to be on this journey with you!