The Power of Yes

In 2015, I vowed to say "no" more often. As I outlined in my first blog post of that year, in an effort to find better balance, I vowed to not agree to do too much. That met with mixed results.... Until the beginning of 2016 when I became totally over extended. So much for "no."

I decided that 2016 is the year of Yes. Not to more work necessarily, but to myself and my family. 

The idea came from an interview Shonda Rhimes - of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal fame - did on Good Morning America earlier this year about her Ted Talk. She tells the story of her toddler asking her to play with her as Shonda was heading out the door for an appointment. At that moment, she decided to say "yes" to her daughter. It took only 15 minutes out of her day and made a world of difference to her daughter and helped Shonda become more productive as well. 

I realized then that I don't say "yes" often enough.

My 3 Yeses

I first said "yes" to a weekend get away with my three sisters to celebrate one sister turning 50. (You can guess which one!) We realized that we had never gotten together, just the 4 of us (we have 2 brothers too). I had work to do, papers to grade and classes to prepare. But I said yes and made great memories with my sisters who live scattered across the country from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean. And my students got another week to write a paper since I couldn't grade them that weekend anyway so it became a win-win!

 
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My second "yes" came near spring break. My son, husband and I had the same week in March off - the first time in 13 years that had happened. We had planned to get away, but got too busy to plan it and, as it turned out, I decided that I really needed a "stay-cation" to catch up on work. Realizing I needed to get away, really get away, my husband asked if I wanted to go somewhere after the semester ended. I said "yes" and he planned a fabulous beach get away the first week of June. More on that to come.

My third "yes" came only a few weeks later. Barry Manillow played a concert 90 minutes from us and did I want to see him? As a self-confessed fanilow, I was torn. I had grants to write, papers to grade, and other work to complete. But this could well be my last chance to see Barry live in concert, so I said "yes." Somehow the grants got written, the papers got graded, and the work got done ... And I saw Barry for what I believe is the 10th time.

Living in the Moment

Right before I left for the beach trip with my wonderful husband, I read an article in Good Housekeeping about mindfulness and living in the moment. We spend too much of our lives looking forward or multitasking that we forget about the here and now. I certainly do. The article suggested that simple things like paying attention to our breathing and the messages coming in through our five senses could make us more mindful. 

 
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I decided to try mindfullness on this beach trip to truely enjoy every moment of it. I started by leaving my computer at home (and those who know me know how hard that was!). On the way to the airport, I resisted checking email to focus on the trip (my husband drove). Laying on the beach, I put my book aside to feel the wind on my face, listen to the waves, and taste the sea air. I soaked in as much of that trip as I could so I could remember and relive when the inevitable stresses of life return.

Who knows what the rest of 2016 will bring but I have great memories of the three times I said "yes" and of adventures with my family that I can carry with me always. Saying "yes" meant that I also had to say "no" or "not now" to some other priorities but the work got done - sometimes late at night and on weekends - and I got to spend time with the people most important to me - including me. 

What can be better than that?

Read previous blog posts about leadership and work/life balance.