Every time we say yes to one thing, we're saying no to something else.
Yes, I'll volunteer. Yes, I'll be there. Yes, I'll contribute.
Yes, I'll run the carpool, chair the board meeting, grab the dinner, bake the cupcakes, edit the project and wash the clothes, all after a 10-hour workday on Thursday night, with a super-wide smile and not a smudge of mascara.
And then when I've completed the day's mind-blowing checklist, I'll pick up the Golden Momma trophy that should arrive any day now, and hoist it above my head as victorious music plays in the backg… Oh, wait. Everyone's sleeping. There is no trophy. But the cupcake batter rimming the bowl that's still sitting in the sink will do, so I'll savor it. I'll then rub on some very expensive eye cream that might or might not conceal the reality that I NEVER SLEEP. And finally, I'll lie in bed and tap-tap-tap notes to myself on my iPhone until I literally pass out.
Seriously, girls. What are we doing?
Thankfully, I've had a revelation. (I think I'm calling it this because it sounds better than an intervention.) It came in the form of executive coach Regan Walsh, who I am fortunate enough to call a friend. Her advice, it turns out, was just like Nancy Reagan's: Just say no.
Many people, she says, say yes out of fear—fear of missing out, fear of disappointing others, fear that others might not perceive us as the connected, engaged, overachieving beings we strive to be.
The truth, however, is that we all have the same 24 hours each day. And every time we say yes to one thing, we're saying no to something else. Yes to that board commitment is no to family time. Yes to those cupcakes is no to the only hour you had to decompress and recharge before tomorrow's presentation. Yes to everything is no to sanity.
And at the end of the day, Walsh wisely reminds me, the fewer yeses you give, the more value they have.
So I'm embracing the no.
I've politely declined two board requests. I've stopped trying to cook organic dinners nightly and am diggin' the wondrous work of the Whole Foods chefs. And I've learned that the world does not, in fact, end if I don't bring Pinterest-perfect snacks to school parties.
I don't have it all figured out. I've spent a lifetime being a yes woman, and I can't rewire overnight. But giving myself permission to say no has empowered me to live in a completely different way.
No, it turns out, is not my enemy. She is my friend. And I really, really like her style.
Kristy Eckert is a Powell mom and founder of Kristy Eckert Communications. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.