I get emails from General Assembly quite often because I take several classes a month from them. The few emails I have seen since the start of 2016 have followed a “Year of Yes” campaign. I think it’s great. I was on board and motivated. “Yes” this is my moment. “Yes” I’ll take this opportunity. “Yes” I’m making the big leap.
But I soon realized that I’m a “yes” person already and I’ve been saying “yes” all along. A little too much actually. So much in fact that I haven’t been able to say “yes” to a “big moment.” I’ve been saying yes to all kinds of small things that do nothing for me but set me back.
So here are the reasons why I’ll be saying “no” more often this year.
1. Saying yes to many things = not enjoying many things
I can’t tell you how many times I have said yes to multiple events happening in a short span of time. For example one weekend I said yes to a 12k, an event with my family, a birthday party at night and I had to get ready for a trip to Spain all in the span of two days. All are great activities— don’t get me wrong. But it was hard to enjoy any of it because I had to constantly think about the next thing to happen. It was “go go go” and I didn’t catch a break to actually enjoy anything. I was stressed out and it showed. When several commitments come up I want to only commit to half in a week.
2. Saying yes all the time doesn’t actually make me reliable
Saying yes to too many tasks doesn’t make you reliable. It may seem that as you’re taking on the responsibilities you’re dependable, but you’re dependable if you actually complete those tasks. Several times I was asked to take on several tasks and projects at work that I ended up working about 50 hours a week. I wanted to seem dependable and reliable. Maybe if you absolutely love, love, love work and don’t have a social life that doesn’t really matter. But I was stressed, not passionate about what I was doing. In the end I worked those hours and maybe only got 70 percent of what I said I’d accomplish completed.
3. Saying yes is costly
Let’s face it. When you say yes to six rounds of drinks, you’ve already blown about $60 from your wallet. Congratulations. That could have been groceries— from Whole Foods. If you’re like me and experience Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), you’re probably saying yes to a lot of social activities. It’s hard to say no, but I try to stay in on Fridays and go out on Saturdays. I’m also trying to do more things at home with friends like cooking dinner, having themed parties, game nights, etc. It’s cheaper and more relaxed.
4. Saying yes is actually not a great way to be productive
Somewhat related to number two, saying yes to too many tasks shows you’re not very good at prioritizing. Before taking on a task I used to not consider my current projects and the timeline on those. Then I’d find myself trying to get three things done by the same due date. Saying “no” to a project allows room for the work to be directed to someone else or for team collaboration to rework the timelines of other projects. If you’re saying yes to too many responsibilities, especially as it relates to work, it means that you could be spending less time on projects and more likely than not, the project won’t be high quality.
5. Saying yes most times doesn’t leave room to say yes for more important things
If you’re constantly saying yes to smaller things, it leaves no room to say yes for the bigger things that could come your way. It’s ok to have a week of nothing (aside from work). When my schedule is cleared I’m able to spend time on my hobbies like blogging, cooking, taking pictures. In those times that I was able to say “no” I got to know myself a little better, refine my skills for bigger things to come and just overall relax and be in a state of happiness. When you’re happy a lot of things will start to come naturally and big things could happen.
This isn’t some kind of ode to say no to so many things where you actually have nothing to do. It’s all about balance. I say yes a little too much so learning to say no gives some balance in my life. Maybe you need it too. Either way look at your life and see when are times you are most stressed. I found that it’s because I take on too many things. Now go and say no! If you’re about to ask— NO. (I’m just kidding. Please keep asking me to do things with you. Just be aware that I may say no a few times more than usual. But please keep me in the loop. I’ll do the same.)