Just before having my first baby, I entered into a season of “no.” I was about to be a first time mom with a demanding full-time job and I knew I wanted some margin to figure out the rhythm of the stage of life I was about to walk in to. I stepped down from volunteer roles, turned down invitations, cleared my plans and simplified my life. I look back at that season with fondness in my heart. It was the right decision for that time.
As time went on and I settled into the new rhythm, I found that I stayed in my default of “no,” despite having the space for “yes.” I didn’t have more time, per se, but I had more space in my heart, more desire and more energy. I realized that I’d let “no” be my default, even when I would have enjoyed the yes. I was so used to saying no, that it was a sort of automatic, knee jerk reaction. I’d made it habit. I don’t regret that it happened but I do recognize that I may have missed out on things that I would have enjoyed and that my friendships/relationships may have taken a hit because of it.
After recognizing my habit of “no”, I made a pendulum swing in the opposite direction. To steal the title from a book I haven’t read, it became the year of yes. I said yes to everything. I planned things, I showed up (even if it was past my bed time), I accepted all the invites and took all the trips. At first it was invigorating. I loved reconnecting with friends that I’d missed, I learned new things (I’m quite a good shot now), and experienced a lot that I would have otherwise missed out on. But, as you may expect, it was not sustainable. The one kid had turned in to three kids and that demanding job had become more so. I was tired. I found that my commitments were draining me and I’d resent the fact that I was away from my kids to do something I wasn’t necessarily enjoying.
Enter my current season, a season of balance. I think I’ve found the right spot for the pendulum. I don’t default to “no” but I also don’t default to “yes.” When presented with an invitation, opportunity, or plan, I ask myself the following before committing:
If it does, I’m in. If it doesn’t I’m out. To clarify, I use this approach for optional calendar items. Changing diapers does not bring me energy, joy (this one could be argued because I am thankful to have babies and they come with diapers), rest or relaxation, but, I do it.
I don’t let the pressure to say yes dictate my plans and I don’t show up just because I feel like I have to. If I’m somewhere on a weekend or evening, it’s because I want to be there. The world doesn’t come crashing down when I decline to participate or volunteer, or whatever. Imagine that.
And you know what? It feels good. I come away from my social or extracurricular happenings feeling energized, joyful, rested and/or relaxed and being in that state allows me to be a better wife, mom, employee and friend.
Do you feel the pressure to say yes, do you default to no, or do you fall somewhere in between? I’d love to know!