So much of the time we find ourselves over-whelmed, over-crowded, over-fed, over-stimulated, and over-worked. In this kind of life we find ourselves needing to say ‘no’. We say ‘no’ to extra time commitments, lots of clutter in our home, and other things that get in the way of our priorities.
But sometimes we really need to say ‘Yes’.
We need to say ‘yes’ to things that challenge us, things that help us grow, and things that will make a difference. We can’t get in the habit of saying ‘no’ and use it as an excuse to miss the opportunities we should be saying ‘yes’ too.
Just say ‘yes’?
Human nature makes it easy to say ‘yes’ to the things we have done before, things we know how to do, things that are safe, things other want us to do, things we know we can succeed at.
But when we are saying ‘yes’ to all these things we don’t have time in our life to say ‘yes’ to the things that will make the biggest difference in our lives.
Saying ‘yes’ to these easy and familiar things quickly overfills our lives and leaves us overwhelmed and exhausted. So these are areas we need to learn to say ‘no’ to so they don’t take over our life.
So when do we say ‘yes’?
It is totally a personal thing on learning what to say ‘yes’ to. But I have come up with some ideas in my own life to help me decide what projects to tackle.
Say ‘yes’ when:
- When it is scary
- When it fits your purpose
- When you don’t know how to do it
This played out for me this summer several times. We had two months off of teaching (which sadly just ended) and we decided to try and do volunteer work here in Asia. There are so many great organizations and I love giving money, but because of our location this year we could give time as well.
I said ‘yes’ to three projects that fit these criteria with mixed results.
Our first month was spent at Starfish Project. Here they asked me to give marriage training to the ladies in their program. I said ‘yes’. I didn’t have any idea how to do marriage training… I have been happily married for 11 years and have lots of opinions on marriage, but otherwise I didn’t know what I was doing.
It went. I did some research and we talked a lot. With cultural differences and these ladies backgrounds it was far from your typical group of couples who would attend a marriage retreat in the states. … for one, it was only the women I could meet with and a marriage really takes two parts.
We focused on the benefits of a marriage where two people really come together instead of just trying to get two people living together without fighting. We focused on the fact that men and women are very different but have equal value. We talked a lot about getting to know your spouse and developing friendship. All these things are good all around the world but here in Asia these are all areas they struggle. Many of the girls had only know their spouse a few weeks before they got married. It isn’t arranged marriage here… but it is different and complicated, and I haven’t figured it out.
I learned more about marriage by studying and doing some of the activities with my husband. I got a chance to get to know the ladies in the program, and I hope a few of them got some ideas that could help make their marriages better. Many came back with good stories from their ‘homework’ activities.
Starfish is a socially responsible jewelry company. They bring in girls who have been exploited and provide them with a job (making jewelry), a place to stay, education, counseling, and lots of other things they need to help them change their life. It is awesome! The company has been growing a lot in the last year and getting more and more efficient. It is great news but their supply has passed their current sales demand. They needed to make a bunch of sales quick to keep all the ladies in the program (at their 3 different locations in Asia) busy. Since I have had some online sales experience with my books I helped throw together a ‘flash sale’ to try and sell as many of one necklace as possible in 4 days to drive both business and online exposure. I wrote about it here.
We worked hard and wrote to hundreds of other blogs. Everywhere we could think of that was interested in fashion, social issues, deals, and anything somewhat related. It was fun to set up and we had a penciled goal of selling 10,000.
We sold about 300. No where near our goal of 10,000. I was frustrated and a bit embarrassed. However, it was a fun project, I learned a lot, hundreds more people know about the Starfish Project that probably didn’t before, new contacts were made online and work was created… though not as much as hoped.
It was a crazy idea project, with little hope of selling as many as we wanted to, but if we didn’t try we wouldn’t have gotten the results we did.
Our second month was spent in Taiwan helping friends at their Christian school. Taiwan is beautiful! Shortly after we got dates and tickets arranged I got an e-mail asking if I could speak at a weekend women’s retreat over one of the weekends. They had seen the blog and liked my ideas. However, there is a big difference between writing and speaking.
When I write a blog post it takes about 2 (or more hours). I can change sentences, pause to think, leave and come back hours later, or scrap the whole idea at the end because it isn’t flowing. … none of these things work in speaking. Public speaking is a whole other unrelated talent.
I stressed for weeks before the talks and had them all written out. I tried to read through the first talk. It all had to be translated as I spoke into Chinese because there was about 1/3 English and 2/3 Chinese speaking audience. The air conditioners weren’t keeping up and several people were falling asleep. I really believed in the message which was about how we, women especially, really need to be accepted and Christ accepts us as we are before we try and fix ourselves up. We don’t need to fix ourselves up to be loved or accepted – we are.
The second talk went much better. The room was cooler and I decided not to read my notes at all. I had prayed about it a bunch and I was talking about the need to simplify our life (something I can talk forever about). The hour-ish flew by and I had fun with it.
I still don’t know exactly how to have the results of the second talk over the first. Both were planned, both were prayed about, both were topics I am passionate about. It is kinda like writing – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
What did work was that I got more practice speaking. A lot of the same ideas from the talks are ones I have wanted to write my next book about and the study and speaking about it helped organize them more for me.
What do you need to say ‘yes’ to? I believe we all have situations offered or available to us that we turn down that we should say ‘yes’ to.
Way to often we say:
- oh, I could never do that
- something needs to be done about that situation but I am not the right one for the job
- I could never be good enough to get that promotion
- that isn’t my talent
- I would probably let someone down
- I don’t have enough experience
And often though these excuses are under the surface, what comes out of our mouth is:
- I really don’t have time right now, sorry
But these are probably the things we really need to be saying ‘Yes’ to.
Have you said ‘yes’ to something scary or stretching lately? Is there something you need to say ‘yes’ to?
Note: I am now an ad free blog! I got out of my ad contract last week. I loved the income that helped pay for the blogging expenses but I just hated the look of it next to my ‘simple’ message. Now, the only things you will see on the blog are things I believe will benefit you and I choose to share. No ad space and no paid reviews (I never did paid reviews, but I won’t be in the future either).