Saying Yes and No in Your Life

What better time than elections to focus on what kind of agency we all have in our lives. More and more it seems like everyone feels inundated with work and overwhelmed by all of the details that go into living our daily lives. On some level, I think this is true. On another level, it’s a mix of first world problems and the inability to gain perspective about how much control we actually have over our own existence. We all make choices and those decisions lead into what makes our days what they are. I urge you all to recognize that you have power over your life and you can make changes…pretty easily, actually.

It starts with saying no to some things. Just take quick stock of some of the regular time sucks in your life that you aren’t getting rewards from and figure out a solution to getting your time back. I recently came across a short piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education on Saying Goodbye to What’s No Longer Working, even when it seems like a fun or regular thing.  As my job has moved over to alumni education responsibilities, I felt this anxiety about how some of my previous duties don’t really have coverage at this moment while we’re staffing up. When I decided to just stop attending those meetings, it was a relief. Although someone will need to make sure those areas get covered, ultimately, it’s not my responsibility, and letting go of that weight on my shoulders felt like a relief.

It’s not really fun to say no, but often it’s necessary. Your time is valuable and so are you!

It feels amazing to say yes. I love being able to help out co-workers and now that I’ve been here for awhile, many colleagues across the university still reach out to me as a resource or for advice on various things. Although this can be seen as a burden or time suck, I carve out time for it, because it feels like such a reward to me.

Check out The Huffington Posts’s piece on Be Loved: How to Get More Love in Your Life. The short synopsis is to do the following to get more love coming your way:

  • Sleep!
  • Stay inspired and creative
  • Find calmness in yourself
  • Let go and indulge in play

I think these suggestions ring pretty true. I’m hit or miss on the sleep part. I definitely stay inspired and creative. I feed my brain by reading so many books and always keep the arts in my life with dance performances and museums. Yoga helps with the calmness. Yesterday, my instructor and friend noted that it’s simple to find calmness in a dark room, wearing comfortable clothes on a mat, but we should stretch to bring that regularly into our day. And I could probably play more…who couldn’t?

I’ll leave you on that note and hope you take some time to empower yourself with agency in your life. If you’re not feeling fulfilled, make some changes!

One Response to “Saying Yes and No in Your Life”

  1. Victor Says:

    Great reflections May-Ling. It is definitely true that shedding ourselves of possessions and programs that do not bring value to our daily existence is most always a healthy move (provided it is done rationally and responsibly). Heck, in some cases, even shedding yourself of people can be healthy (e.g. ‘unfriending’ people on facebook who aren’t really friends but only clutter your feed with nonsense).

    Many of us who manage people, projects or organizations struggle with saying no to others and saying yes to ourselves. I think constant reminders of the time lost or opportunities lost would be motivating for me. My struggle is figuring out how to come to terms with never ending task lists with a pedigree and provenance worth of an priceless antique! At some point, we need to say: ain’t gonna happen – not critical – set is aside – start fresh – move on. And you know what, in the long run, you and those around you, probably will be just fine.

    Thanks for your reflections and thoughts on this topic.

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