Saying Yes to the Wrong Things
I used to say YES to every opportunity that I came across. I've always been somewhat aggressive when it comes to climbing the ladder, being my best, and working as hard as I can. But, several years ago, I said yes one too many times and was burned out beyond belief. I was forced to learn the hard lesson that career is not the most important thing in life. What I did, rather than who I was, had become my safeguard, and I was forced to rethink my priorities. I won't say this transition was easy for me or instantaneous, but I had enough on my plate in college that sifting through the commitments seemed manageable. So many different things meant a great deal to me, it was just a matter of re-ordering the totem pole. I streamlined my schedule to the things that mattered the most: relationships, community, school, and career.
However, upon moving to Colorado, I left behind the days of school and the community that I had fostered. I kept my relationships, but faced the new reality of long-distance. Outside of career, there was little in my life that I was saying yes to anymore.
I recently began reading the book The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. One of my favorite quotes from the book so far is, “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” I know this to be true because I've lived it; however, I'd like to make my own addition to this claim. It's true that when you say yes to everything, your life becomes a juggling act that you can't possibly balance for long. But, even if you only say yes to one thing, if it's the wrong thing, you will still come up empty.
It's not about having too much or too little on your plate, it's about the right mix.
I've learned how to streamline my priorities, but in doing so, I've made one big mistake. I've cut out the things in my life that refueled me, and focused only on the things that require my fuel. I love my career, so it's easy to let it run the show. It's easy to let it dictate the decisions and be #1 on my list. Prioritizing becomes tricky when it seems like everything that you're doing is a good way to spend your time.
I believe that living a fulfilling life isn't about being more or less busy. It's about having an even balance between responsibilities that you pour into and ones that pour back into you. I always visualize a water pitcher with this analogy. A water pitcher can be full to the brim and fill up multiple glasses around a table, but there will be a point when it has to get refilled. If you don't refill it, it becomes a useless object, incapable of serving it's purpose.
Saying no isn't always the answer. Sometimes you have to say yes to things that could make your life a little more complicated but a little bit richer, too. Finding the balance is a constant struggle, and I don't believe it's one that we will ever perfect because we aren't perfect. But, you have to remember your definition of success and make decisions under that umbrella.
The best choice isn't usually an easy one, but that doesn't mean it's wrong.