Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Week of No | A Week of Yes: Final Thoughts & Link-up

If you've been hanging around these parts, you know that I've been performing a bit of an experiment as of late. I decided to challenge myself to a test of setting boundaries and taking chances: A Week of No and a Week of Yes. Today, I'm sharing how this whole thing turned out:

Week of NO

You can read last week's post for a more in depth look at my experience with my Week of No, but essentially I took that time as an opportunity to turn down the things of life that felt needlessly obligatory: the blog post that could be written tomorrow, the big group dinner that I just wasn't feeling like attending, the last-minute invitations or requests that really didn't work with my schedule. Those might all seem like obvious things to say "no" to, but -- and I don't think I'm alone in this -- sometimes guilt can cause me to make weird decisions.

That's the biggest thing I decided to let go of during my Week of No: guilt -- the kind that leads me to begrudgingly agree to things that in a hundred years I would never want to do. I wasn't perfect about it, but to the best of my ability, I attempted to shut off that part of my brain for seven days straight. I quieted that voice in my head that says, "But they're counting on you...", "But they'll be mad at you...", "But if you say 'no' to this, you'll have to say 'yes' to the next thing..." I took that disembodied voice and put her in a drawer. I could still hear her rambling sometimes, but it was kind of muffled, so I couldn't always make out what she was trying to say.

This was what I looked like during my Week of No: free of obligation and full of pie.

So that was my Week of No, and believe me, it was needed.

Week of YES

This last week, I switched gears and started saying "yes." This was a week dedicated to committing myself to good things that I might be tempted to avoid/put off: the project that has been on the back burner for months, the phone call with a friend that I've been missing, the thing I got invited to at the last minute that might be amazing but also might be terrible, who knows. 

I made an insane to-do list for myself, chockfull of job stuff and life stuff. When I made it, I told my husband that if I didn't complete every item, I would punish myself by moving to the woods. So anyway, I guess I'm moving to the woods because NO WAY IN HELL did I finish that crazy list. 

But I'm still proud to say that I knocked off a lot of the big stuff. I ran a successful sponsor promotion and connected with tons of wonderful creatives. I met with some wonderful people, sent so.many.emails, wrote stories, reached out to brands, sketched out some plans for upcoming projects, wrote a sponsored post, and still had time to listen to the latest installment of Serial on Thursday (by the way, we are all listening to Serial, right?).

This was a week where I especially said "yes" to the future of this blog, which is a thing that I must confess has been fading into the background lately.

My headquarters for my Week of Yes. Spent a lot of time in my new, still-unfinished home office.

And you may be wondering after all of this -- which did I like better? Which week was more enjoyable? Which one taught me the most?

Both. I liked both. I loved both. I was frustrated with both. I learned from both.

Here's what I am taking with me from my Week of No:

1. The world doesn't fall apart if I don't show up.

I know what you're thinking: this is the kind of lesson a narcissist needs to learn, and you know what, I'll take that for what it's worth. I do think it's easy for me to get in the mindset of, "If I don't do this, no one will do this, and probably everything will be ruined." And you know what? That's not the truth. During my Week of No, not a single decision I made caused a black hole. Think about that.

2. People are generally fine when you say "no", especially if you provide an alternative.

"Hey there, I'm not down for this, but you know who would be? My friend/colleague/person I admire, _____." Providing alternatives is a really respectful way to turn someone down, and I want to get a lot better at making this a part of my professional life. Also, with that, it's not always necessary to provide reasons for turning someone down. A simple "no" is usually preferable to "Uh, see, I can't because...I've got this friend...'s cousin...'s boyfriend...who is coming into town...and...he...ummm..." Actually, "no" is always preferable to that mess. 

3. Saying "no" can get boring...eventually.

At the end of my Week of No, I was itching for my Week of Yes. But only at the very end. The rest of it was actually...like...heaven.

Here's what I'm taking with me from my Week of Yes:

1. Even small yeses can have big impacts.

One of the things on my list this week involved amping up my social media presence. On Monday morning, I relaxed with a cup of coffee while tweeting at bloggers I loved, and by the afternoon, I'd somehow gained fifteen new followers. What?! I wasn't even wearing pants! 

2. Saying "yes" is actually saying "no." 

It's just saying "no" to different things. Saying "yes" involves fighting with your brain a lot and telling it to shut up when it wants to take a break or break down into a fit of negativity. That second fight was the one I found myself engaged in a lot. I didn't always win. 

3. Saying "yes" can get stressful...super quick.

Early on, in my Week of Yes, I realized the thing that I always seem to forget -- that I can't do it alone. Even before I actually said "yes" to anything, just looking at the to-do list that I created started to give me anxiety. That's when I decided that if I was going to do this while still maintaining my sanity, I would need to set apart time for prayer and meditation. I read Psalms every morning and jotted down all kinds of thoughts and reflections. In doing this, I was reminded that I wasn't alone, and that I'm never actually alone even when I try to convince myself that I am.

The thing about this whole Week of No | Week of Yes thing is that it's not a practical way to live. I realize that. Obviously we need both sides in balance to be able to function as human beings. By the way, if I remember correctly, that's basically the thesis for the movie "Yes Man." 

But sometimes it takes going to the extreme to realize how to incorporate ideas in moderation. If this happens to be resonating with you, feel free to adopt one of these weeks for yourself. If you are someone who is all about boundaries but forgets to take risks, have a week of "Yes." If you are someone who agrees to everything and can barely breathe, maybe try a week of "No." And if you're a spazz like me, maybe try both. 

How do you say "no" and "yes" in your life?


If you happen to give this experiment a try or if you just want to write about the importance of saying "no" or "yes", feel free to link-up your post below! Your posts can be centered around any of the following:

1. If you've done the Week of Yes/No experiment, write about what you learned.
2. If you're about to do a Week of Yes/No, write about your goals.
3. Simply write about a time in life when you said "yes" or "no" to something significant. 

Feel free also to connect a previously written post if you've got one. I'll keep the link-up running all week, so add your posts and be sure to link back to this post. Thanks, fellow boundary-setters and dream-chasers!

1 comment:

  1. I have this huuuuge problem with saying no. so huge. This post of yours was in fact very inspiring and the yes week was especially motivating, not because of the obvious use of the term I was comfortable with, but because of the personal and professional oportunities that lie within that list I can make to make a difference while saying yes. So, lets get back to the "no" problem. I get this insane feeling that no matter the situation, person or whatever me saying no would and for sure is gonna insult or hurt the reciever of my negative response. What will they think of me?! The world is going to fall apart if I say no!!! and I will end up looking bad, unprofessional... bla bla bla. It is insane and it never ends. and the worst part is, I don`t even notice this, or consider this to be actually bad for me, while in the moment, but only when I stumble upon a themed post like yours. Insane! I think I have a problem, and I have a problem with not realising I have a problem. If all that makes sense. But at least I find your blog to distrac me :) LOVE IT!!! (serious case of procrastination, day two)


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