Updated: Jan 3
When it comes to work-life balance, people recommend that you should stop saying "Yes!" However, I am here to tell you that you need to actually stop saying "No!"
No and Yes are two sides of the same coin. A typical coin has both a "head" and a "tail." When you flip the coin, only the side facing up "wins." However, the other side of the coin remains hidden. You can pretend it doesn't exist, but it does. Both sides of the coin are present, even when you pretend otherwise.
"Yes" is popular because "Yes" feels like a win. "Yes" feels like the best possible outcome. "Yes, I'd be happy to!" "Of course I have nothing else planned." "Yes! Why not?" "Yes, I have all the time in the world . . ." However, "Yes" is like the coin where only one side is face up. The other side, the "No," is not visible; but it is still there. And that invisible "No" is costing you.
"Yes" and "No" always travel together. There is never a "Yes" without a "No" or a "No" without a "Yes". Rather, there is always a "Yes" AND a "No." Your, "Yes, I will see the extra patient at 5:00 p.m." means "No, I will not make it to my partner's work dinner on time. Your "Yes, I will take on that extra project," means "No" to being fully present with your family at dinner. Your "Yes" to attending the "emergency" after hours meeting means "No" to being the kind of mother you want to be. Your "Yes" to making your colleague feel better means "No" you don't have enough energy to make it to the gym. So, why do you do it? Why do you keep saying "No" to yourself?
When you say "No" to yourself, how can you become the best version of you? When you say "No" to yourself, how can your loved ones count on you to be fully present when you're not at work? When you say "No" to yourself, how will your passion projects get done? When you say "No" to yourself, what are you really saying about what you value most? Why do you say "No" to yourself and pay a price you cannot afford?
What are the things you need to say "Yes" to in your life? Where are the spaces where no one can replace you? What are the passion projects that won't get done if you don't move them forward? What are the financial goals only you can own? What is the investment you need to make in yourself that can't happen when you're distracted? Where are the spaces where younger people coming behind you are looking to you to define your value so that they know how much they are worth too? Where do you need to say yes, so that you become the person you were born to be?
Saying "Yes" to yourself is the only way to own your contribution in the world. You are uniquely positioned to accomplish things that no one else can. The sum total of your life experiences, likes, dislikes, pain points, highs, and lows . . . all come together to create a unique individual whose life cannot be duplicated. We need you to show up in all your glory and take up your space to achieve the thing that only you can. We desperately need you to become the person that only you can become. And you can't do that when you keep saying "No" to you.
So, maybe take a break from saying "No" to yourself for a few days. See what it feels like. And don't just say "No." Also say "Yes!" Say "Yes" to you and the amazingness of all that you are. See if you can stop saying "No" to yourself. Stop saying “No” and start saying "Yes."