Saying “Yes” is Saying “No”
March 2, 2011 13 Comments
At a meeting last week one colleague said the following: “Whenever you say Yes to something, you’re saying No to something else”
For some reason this simple statement just struck me hard… like a ton of bricks.
I’ve always been the person to volunteer for everything. If it can be done, I’d volunteer to do it. I’m the “YES!” girl.
In high school I was a member of EVERY club on campus, ran cross country, was active in my youth group at church (also did every activity there), and I volunteered for my local community theatre every night. All while maintaining a perfect GPA. I am the quintessential “Yes” girl.
The hardest lesson that I learned was to say “No” to something I wanted to do.
It was my sophomore year in college and I was, of course, involved in many activities. I was a double Biology and Chemistry major. I (at the time) was also a Political Science minor. I lead an acting group that toured every weekend. I was a member of our Chemistry and Biology clubs on campus. I participated in two different small groups in our dorms. I worked 10 hours a week at our campus tutoring center. I was also a member of the band.
The problem? There weren’t enough hours in the day to be involved in so much, maintain friendships AND get straight As.
I will never forget the tearful conversation I had with my mom the beginning of my sophomore year where I confessed to her that I was too stressed out! I couldn’t do everything anymore. And she told me simply: “You have to drop something.”
By saying “Yes” to all of those activities I had said “No” to free time and enough time to study.
So in order to say “Yes” to study time I had to say “No” to something. That something was band. It was with a heavy heart that I dropped out of band. But immediately after doing so I had enough time for everything. Without practice every day I suddenly had time to do properly study for my classes!
Now I’m a faculty member and I’m starting to realize that I don’t have time for everything I want to do for this school. I want to join every committee. I want to start up a ton of new programs. I want to give great lectures. I want to give interesting assignments. I want to meet personally with every student in each of my classes. I want to grade every assignment within a week. But I can’t say “Yes” to each of those things without saying “No” to something else. For now, my highest priority is quality lectures. Everything else falls in line behind that… and sometimes far behind…
Now that I’m older, I realize that life is a balance between work and home life. If you say “Yes” too many times to things at work, you start to say “No” to home life.
I’m already starting to feel over-exerted by the grading of one of the assignments I gave my students this semester. So much so that it is starting to interfere with my personal life with BF. Instead of saying “Yes” to a fun day of hanging out with him on Saturday, I had to say “Yes” to a full day or grading.
I think that every time I agree to do something from here on out I have to ask myself: What am I saying “No” to in order to do this – and is it worth it?
If it isn’t worth it I need to cast it aside and devote myself and my time to my top priorities.