This is important: everything you say YES to means you are potentially saying NO to something else. Please note here that this is not just a challenge for people-pleasers. Many of us say yes to things because of what feel like really valid reasons. It might be that saying yes to that request means a possible promotion or helping someone who we know really needs it. Today's quote is very much about raising your awareness of whether you are saying yes to the things that will serve you now and later.
I always laugh on the inside (and sometimes on the outside) when people ring and ask me if I can come and speak to their people about time management. What’s to manage? You actually can’t manage time. There are 24 hours in the day and, as far as I know, it’s staying that way. A better way to think about it is to consider what you will do with your 24 hours.
For example, when you say YES to that client dinner, you are saying NO to your family. When you say YES to exercise, you are saying NO to a heart attack (that might be overly dramatic, but you know what I mean). Maybe your choice works out well, or maybe there’s a consequence you didn’t think about and didn’t want.
When we are clear about what matters to us, we can prioritise. We more consciously choose to invest time in things that pay us back and that work for us, such as energy, health, relationships and quality of life.
There’s a term we use in the coaching world: the opportunity cost. A question I commonly ask people is, ‘What will it cost you to do that?’ The cost might be financial, emotional, social or physical.
Every time you say YES to a commitment, and you use up some of your time, it costs you with either negative or positive impacts. Sometimes the cost is immediate; other times it happens down the track.
Catch yourself in conversations and when you’re entering something into your calendar, and think about the cost. Are you prepared to pay it? It can be really helpful to come up with language you can use when you want to say no but feel the need to say yes; for example, ‘I wish I could help with that but I’m working to a tight deadline today.’
Use your time well and mindfully. You only have today once. It becomes easier to say NO when you have clarity on this.
As we all get ready to start another week, let’s know what matters and say yes to that.
- Lisa Stephenson
Founder, The Coach Place Global
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