When You’re Not Sure Whether to Say Yes or No

This time last year, I sat among a group of women, many of whom were fresh from preschool and elementary school drop offs, and we shared our intentions for the fall. We were refreshed after spending time with family and friends, coming off of slowed-down summer schedules. We had grand ideas about carving out time for ourselves every Monday, or on Sunday evenings, and this, this was the year we would finally figure out how to meal plan so that dinner time wouldn’t be the struggle it inevitably becomes more nights than we care to admit. Turning that calendar page to September practically bursts with promise.

time management

Yet it won’t surprise anyone to know that when our group came together in December, almost all of us were treading water to keep up with the demands of life, not to mention finding holiday travel schedules to keep multiple sides of our families content with our choices. What happened to those calm ladies from the fall? Where did we go wrong?

The internet has had me thinking about saying yes and saying no for years now. About five years ago, a slew of articles and books and blog posts popped up to remind us how busy and exhausted we all were, and told us that in order to reclaim a sense of balance, we should practice saying no. But then another couple of years went by, and there was the internet, and the queen of Thursday night television herself, telling us that we needed to say yes to everything to bring about a more fulfilling life. Which brings me to this year, when I’ve got that fresh-start-fall feeling, but I’m scratching my head, wondering which it is. Yes or no?

The questions are already there. Can I take on a planning role in a group I volunteer with? Help get a church story time off the ground? Do I have an hour to tutor a new student once a week? It doesn’t do well for me to dwell in black and white, so for the school year ahead, I’m trying out a new tactic: If it’s not a definite yes, it’s a no.

I love the balance automatically built into this approach. When something comes along that excites me, when my brain jumps right into the planning phase without even stopping to consider the question, that’s a yes. And when I think, “I should check my calendar,” or, “I should talk to my husband or girlfriends, and see what they think,” then that’s my answer. If I can’t say for certain that I can do it (and do it well), then it won’t get the best I have to give, and the offer isn’t worth accepting.

I’ve marked a couple spots in my planner so I can check in with myself each month. What am I doing? Do I need to be doing it? Is it still a definite yes? I don’t want to be that frazzled December mess of a person, who has to wrap 8,000 gifts and bake three dozen cookies the morning of a party. I don’t want to find myself in a place where I’m wondering what happened. Cheers to fall, and fresh starts for everyone.

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