I believe that the world is full of need.
I believe that we are all here on purpose, that each one of us has a fundamental gift to give that is essential to healing this world.
I believe that it is imperative that we live our purpose.
I believe that by living our purpose, we heal the world and ourselves.
I believe that because we are here on purpose, we have to get really clear about what we say yes and no to because we only have so much time available to us to do the work that we are meant to be doing in this world.
I believe far too many woman say yes to far too many things, spreading themselves too thin to have the impact they not only want to have but need to have.
I believe it is time to change that.
I believe that we must say no in order to say yes.
I believe the time is now.
Let’s do it.
For years, I had two standards for whether or not I said yes to a commitment.
1. Was I technically available? By that I mean, was the time of the commitment itself open in my calendar? If so, I quickly moved to standard #2. I didn’t think about whether or not I would have to break land-speed records to get to my next commitment or whether or not I had the time to do the prep work. If the time itself was available, then that was enough for serious consideration (by which I mean, time to ask myself question # 2).
2. Could I technically do it? Note that I did not say ably. So, was the question whether or not I could participate in the school bake sale or car wash? Well, if the time was available, I couldn’t deny that those things were things I could technically do it. I didn’t ask if they were things that I derived any pleasure from, if there were others who might be better at it or anything like that. As long as you weren’t asking me to fix your car engine or cure cancer, I could probably technically do it (even if the it in question was something I didn’t like doing) and so as long as my calendar was open, I said yes.
And then, sometimes, the dread began. I didn’t want to do the prep work. I didn’t want to leave my boys (the big one and little one). I didn’t want to get dressed to go or do my hair. And then I would go and have a lovely time and, on the way home, I would say, “See! You had such a lovely time. You have the worst attitude ever. You should improve it.”
But, eventually, I had this breakthrough thought: I have a lovely time wherever I end up. I am kinda wired to have a good time.
That a-ha moment along with another one that came when I realized that I was putting off all of these projects that were so heart-centered to me in order to make times for these invitations that I was getting to participate in things that were heart-centered for someone else made me realize something: I wasn’t living my life purpose. I was defusing it.
And I needed a new standards for discerning whether or not I said yes or no to an invitation. No longer were my two questions– am I technically available and can I technically do it- enough.
So I asked myself how I wanted to feel when I was doing something. The answer? WHOLEHEARTED. I really, truly wanted to be in with my whole heart.
Then I asked myself what wholeheartedness looked like for me. Turns out: being happy to be there wasn’t enough. The wholeheartedness, for me, needed to start much earlier. And so I created The Continuum of Wholeheartedness for myself to better discern when and why I should yes or no to a request (when my calendar was really open).
Exercising the Continuum of Wholeheartedness
First, I need to be thrilled to be asked. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when someone asks you to do something that doesn’t sound all that appealing to you (and you start thinking, as you scroll through your calendar, please let it be that I am not available). Yeah, that feeling is NOT thrilled to be asked. If I have that feeling from the outset, I have to say no.
Next, I need to be happy to prepare. So, let’s say that someone asks you to do something that you really are genuinely thrilled they thought of you to do it. Now, move to the next standard. Do you have room in your heart, mind, and schedule to prepare for it? If the prep work is going to leave you ragged at this particular time, and make other parts of your life hard (you have to stay up late, wake up early, skip workouts or other self-care or even alter important commitments you have made to others), then you have to say no. When you are operating wholeheartedly, the prep work will feel thrilling, even if it is a stretch for you. If it doesn’t thrill, don’t do it.
The third standard is a good tell for me. Will I be alright with getting ready for the experience and leaving my peeps to go? I like being with my boys. I like wearing my crazy curls on top of my head. I like wearing slouchy jeans and blousy shirts and looking like a bit of an in process artist. A lot of places that I am invited to don’t exactly call for that look. So, am I cool with cleaning things up a bit and saying good-bye to my peeps to go. If I am, then I totally know that it is wholehearted.
The fourth standard is one that is important to ask but, to be honest, never the one to base MY answer on– will I be joyful while I am there. The truth is that I am joyful MOST wherever I end up. But not everybody is and that is not even true for me everywhere (I will never be joyful in a great big event designed for networking) so I ask myself that question. Can you see yourself feeling joy while you are fulfilling this commitment? If the answer is eh, maybe or no, then your answer needs to be no.
The fifth standard is inspired by a friend of mine who will compliment a hard-worker by saying, “Oh, she’s a trash mover!” I once asked her what she meant by that and she said, “There are two kinds of people after an event. There is the kind of person who is totally engrossed in cleaning up. She’s carefully folding the linens, making thoughtful stacks of what goes where and isn’t afraid or above taking out the trash. Then there is the other person who stands around and talks and acts above it all.” I don’t know about you, but I want to be a trash mover and it is a good litmus test. Being a trash mover requires BIG BUY-IN. So when I think about this standard, I am inclined to ask myself, “Can I see myself being as excited to clean up after this commitment as I am setting up?” If yes, then yes. If no, well, then no.
And then there is standard number six: excited to bask in the afterglow. Will you be peeling out of the parking lot asap, putting the commitment in your headlights, trying never to think about it again or will you be like, “wow. Wow. WOW.” afterwards. Will your mind be percolating? If you anticipate, percolation, then yes is best. No percolation? You know what to do.
The Continuum of Wholeheartedness has worked wonders for me. It has made me think more deliberately about how to use the finite amount of time and energy I have available to me and has made me more discerning about when I say yes. The great reward to that is that I am able to live even more on purpose and when I live on purpose, I actually make a greater difference in this world?
Can you see The Continuum of Wholeheartedness working for you?
And a little note: sometimes, we know that we know we need to say no but feel incredible guilt about it OR don’t know how to say no. Come back next Monday for insight on both of those matters!