Living in Silicon Valley, we are ALL over committed. Whether it be our jobs, volunteer efforts, sports, kid activities, or our lively circle of friends, we are always on the go. But when you’ve been in this rat race for over twenty years, you start to wonder if these commitments are based on priorities or just trying to keep up. Should you cut back and simplify your life?
If you Google, “Simplify life,” you will find a myriad of articles and blogs. There are even Apps to simplify your life. You can get advice from many sources but when it comes down to it, you need to look at your priorities and starting saying NO.
I bet when most of you were just babes, learning to talk, your favorite word was NO.
NO, I don’t like Brussels sprouts.
NO, I don’t want to take a bath.
NO, I don’t want to go to school.
NO, I don’t want to clean my room.
Somewhere along our journey through life, we stopped using the word NO. And I’m not talking about those situations where “No” is appropriate. I’m talking about being a people-pleaser, a fixer, and a constant networker.
If I want to do something, I don’t want to hear, “NO, you can’t.” I want to hear, “YES, you can.”
Understand that I love to be part of a community and to help people. And I take on most anything thrown at me. I love new tasks. Even if I’ve never done it before, I just dig in, learn what needs to be done, and do it. I have become a YES person.
YES, I will work late tonight to finish that project.
YES, I will organize the neighborhood party.
YES, I will introduce you to that person.
YES, I will volunteer in my child’s classroom.
I say YES to most anything as I love connecting people and feeling part of a something bigger. And it makes me feel good to say YES and complete a task. I’m the busy person people call to complete a task because everyone knows I get shit done…and shit done well.
But then I realized, “WTF am I doing, trying to please everybody else?”
That’s when it hit me. I have a problem…with saying, NO.
Over the summer, I took some time to think about my life. I’m fortunate to have found a loving husband who still puts up with my shit even after twenty years. I’ve got kids who are young but on the edge of being self-sufficient. I volunteer a fair share of my free time to amazing organizations. My knees are aging so I have to rethink my exercise routine. I have many friends and family getting divorced. My day job is all consuming that my passions are now shelved off to the wee hours of the night. My parents and in-laws are aging way too fast. My entire family ecosystem sometimes feels like playing hot potato with a cactus. And health issues are constantly coming up all around me. Throw in a couple tragic and natural deaths and you start to question your role in this adventure I call life. What is my purpose on this earth? I see many people going through the motions of life but not focusing on what is important to them. Life is way to short. Don’t you want to make a difference on the path you take? I know I do. That is why I came up with a list of five top priorities:
#1 family #2 health #3 passions #4 friends #5 day job
Don’t get me wrong, I will always help a friend in need. No questions asked. And some of these priorities do overlap. But with everything life throws my way, I need to take a step back, look at my priorities and start saying NO. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a part of your life. And it doesn’t mean I don’t want to help. It just means that I’ve got a lot of shit going on and I have to make hard choices.
So next time you see me and ask for the world, understand the YES inside of me would love to help, but the new NO might take over and politely turn you down.
And that’s alright. It’s okay to say NO if it means YES to focusing on my priorities in life.