Find a way to say yes to things. Say yes to invitations to a new country, say yes to meet new friends, say yes to learn something new. Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job, and your spouse, and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means that you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference. Yes lets you stand out in a crowd, be the optimist, see the glass full, be the one everyone comes to. Yes is what keeps us all young.
Years ago, when I had just opened our bakery café, I had a mentor tell me to “always find a way to say yes.” She had run a very successful business for more than two decades, so I knew there was credibility to her advice. Plus, there is nothing more a customer likes than hearing yes.
So often in life, in business, and especially in parenting, we’re quick to say no. But the problem with no—and its negative connotation—is that “no” shuts doors, closes off opportunities, and most importantly, it shuts down people. I’m not advising we shout “yes!” from the hilltops and be taken advantage of or uncomfortable with decisions, but there are tactful ways to handle situations. As we embark on a new year, I’m sharing a few ways to say yes.
Aside from parenting, we probably say no or some variation the most at work. “No, I can’t take on the project because of resources, time, other priorities,” or “No, I can’t stay late to enjoy a happy hour because of outside obligations.” But what if instead, we said “I’m happy to take on the project if I shift around other commitments. Can we talk about my workload?” or “I can’t make happy hour today, but what about lunch next week?” Simple shifts in how we respond can make everyone feel better about a situation, it casts us in a better light (more helpful, more positive), and it gives everyone the satisfaction of being told “yes.” Plus, it could open more opportunities for advancement, new skills, and getting to know others better.
Sometimes saying no at home is inevitable—“no climbing on the counter,” “no swinging from the ceiling fan”—stuff that presents actual harm to our small humans. As parents, many of us have mastered pretending to say yes by saying, “I’ll think about it” when what we are really saying is “I hope you forget, because there isn’t a shot in hell we’re doing/getting/seeing X, Y, Z.”
But I’m starting to find that even at the crazy ages of two and four, a fluffy answer just isn’t cutting it with my kids anymore. And they remember. Ohhhh, do they remember. Instead, I’m working hard to say, “We can’t do/buy/see X, Y, Z, but how about we do/buy/see A, B, C?” It’s a sneaky diversion, but it often works and it make them feel empowered by making the decision of A, B, or C. And, it saves me from a meltdown—usually in Target—and we could all be spared one of those.
This is perhaps the most important person to start saying yes to—yourself. As moms, everything we do goes on the backburner. I read an article not too long ago about a woman who constantly put off seeing a dermatologist about a skin issue, only to have it eventually be diagnosed malignant. Personally, I think I have rescheduled at least 10 doctor appointments this year for fear of falling behind at work, being too late coming home and not able to relieve our childcare, or shaking up my routine too much. Isn’t that pathetic? As a backbone to my family, if anyone needs care, it’s me!
So this year, I decided to refocus on my health, my experiences, and my overall well-being. On the heels of celebrating my 32nd year in October, I decided to make it my “year of yes” (or #yearofyes 😉). More yes to conquer my fears (a transatlantic flight without drugs!), more yes to do something I always wanted to do, but never had the guts to (a tattoo—this is the real test to see who reads my articles. I got one!), more yes to letting my kids be kids (sure, play in the dirt; nothing Tide can’t fix), more yes to fun (a holiday party invite I would normally turn down because it’s too far), more yes to giving back (donated blood for the first time), and more yes to working on myself (daily meditation/relaxation and aggressive financial and fitness goals).
I’m only two months in and already I feel rewarded by the experiences. By doing this, I’m making the most of this life I’ve been given. I’m happier, healthier, and the ripple effect can be felt by those around me. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes and would love to hear about some of your own goals for 2018.
“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my every day to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”
― Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life