Monday, December 1, 2014

A Week of "No" | A Week of "Yes"


When it comes to balancing my life as a freelance writer, I have found two things to be absolutely essential: setting clear, distinct boundaries and taking big, fat chances. In other words, it is critical for me to know when to say "No" and when to say "Yes" and when to say "YESYESYESYESYES!" 

I'm certainly not the first person to come to this realization. In fact, over 2,000 years ago, it was Jesus who said to a bunch of people while standing on top of a mountain, "Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’" 

But it's not always that simple, or at least it isn't for me. For all of my big talk, this last month has left me pretty reluctant to follow this advice. With events and traveling and moving into our new apartment, life has just seemed like a blur. I've found myself getting bogged down with tasks that I never should have said yes to and putting off opportunities out of sheer exhaustion. Even the things that I am truly passionate about have accumulated a stench of obligation. I have been saying "yes" when I really want to say "good god no", and the idea of taking chances has been on the back burner.

Whenever I realize that I am in the midst of this sort of season, one where I feel like I haven't been living life at 100%, it can be tempting to become pretty negative. I start thinking about childhood prodigies -- the Tavi Gevinsons and the Lordes and the Quvenzhan√© Wallises of this world -- and I briefly decide that it's way too late for me to even try. 

Seriously, Tavi, can you stop doing incredible things for, like, one hot second? (Via)

But this time around, I opted for a different approach. Instead, I decided to be gentle on myself. I mean, hey, it happens, right? We get behind. We lose focus. We flake out, and it's not the end of the world. We get back up, and try try again, amen? Amen.

And with this fresh outlook in place, I decided to perform a bit of an experiment. Instead of simply telling myself to get better at saying "yes" and "no", I thought, why not find a new method of practicing this skill? Why not take it to the next level? 

Hence, a week of "no" and a week of "yes."

One week wherein I commit myself to saying "no". No to things that feel overwhelming. No to people who I simply cannot help right now. No to myself when I put needless pressure on my day. No to tasks that could easily be put off until tomorrow. No to the lie that I have to be crazy busy to be worth something. Just no. 

And then another week where I flip the script completely to say "yes". Yes to the things that I have been putting off for months. Yes to opportunities that come my way. Yes to people who come into my life even when it feels inconvenient. Yes to my own ideas. Yes to my to-do list. Yes to collaboration, friendship, and dreams. Yes yes yes yes yes.

It's probably extreme, and maybe even frowned upon in some circles, but whatever, I'm doing it. In fact, I'm right in the midst of it. Last week, without making a big stink about it (because that would have felt way too obligatory), I began my Week of No, and friends, it was GLORIOUS. 

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

To be clear, in case there is any confusion, my week of No was not a week of negativity, but rather a week where I lived in the spirit of setting boundaries. When things came up that would ordinarily instigate stress, I felt free to just not do those things as long as it didn't cause anyone's world to end. That included (but was certainly not limited to) NOT going to a big group dinner when I was feeling introverty and NOT writing a blog post when I wasn't feeling super blog posty (Did your world end? I didn't think so).

My week of No was over the holiday, so it kind of made sense to make it a week where I let go of obligations. In order to do this thing right, I completely took myself out of the picture. My husband and I packed up our car and headed to a cabin in upstate New York where we spent Thanksgiving, just the two of us. Feast your eyes on this magical little gem:



Isn't she pretty? Check out her insides:




We watched a sketchy live stream of the parade, played a crazy amount of Boggle, and cooked a simple dinner in our simple cottage.  








Even though we missed our family and friends, I have to say it was nice to just be able to fully enjoy the holiday in the way the that we did. In fact, it was one of the most reflective and grateful Thanksgivings I've ever experienced, not because I wasn't around people, but because I was truly able to breathe and take stock of all of the joyful things that are in my life. And, man, there are a lot of joyful things in my life.




And by the way, my Week of No wasn't a week of selfishness. I feel like that needs to be said. In our weird, guilty brains we often associate saying "no" with being self-centered. We picture petulant toddlers screaming at their parents in malls ("NooooOOOOooo--uuuuhhh!!!"). But that really is not the case, and in fact, I think the opposite is true. Through setting boundaries last week, I was better able to take care of the people in my life. I was a better listener because I was less frazzled, and I was a way better servant because my kindness flowed from a genuine place instead of a place of requirement.

Still, all of that to say, I have to admit that I am pretty CRAZY EXCITED about my Week of Yes!

I will be going into all of the details in a post tomorrow, but just so you know, I have created a BALLIN list of things that I will be banging out this week. Like, this is the mother of all to-do lists, y'all. I am saying "yes" to difficult emails that I've been delaying sending, "yes" to sprucing up this here blog, and "yes" to making a ton of connections this week with other likeminded freelancers. Coming off of my Week of No, I am so ready to get shit done.

And not only am I saying "yes" to my own ideas and my own to-do list, but in the spirit of this week, I am saying "yes" to whatever comes my way (within reason, obvi). Even though the forecast claims that it's going to rain four days this week, if an opportunity comes along, I will throw on my wellies and make it happen. Because of Netflix and cuddling, I usually suck at this, but for this week, life is just going to be a big ol' bag of Yes.

So what about you? Could you use a little more "yes" in your life? Or perhaps you're a little yessed-out, and you'd prefer a week of setting boundaries. Or maybe you're like me, and you need a bit of both. 

Well, if you'd like to join in on this whole thing, give me a shout in the comments section! I'd be happy to turn this into a linkup. You can start your own Week of No or Yes, and then write a post all about your experiences. You game?

Stay tuned for a post tomorrow with lots of fun news that is all being brought on by this crazy experiment! I really think it will be worth your while (especially if you're a blogger or writer or someone who is trying to do cool things in this world). 

4 comments:

  1. Very cool! Can't wait to hear how both weeks went.

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  2. Love this idea, I'm definitely someone that says yes to too much when I'm really thinking NOOOO!!! LEAVE ME ALONE!!! Might be an idea I try

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  3. I'm so intrigued as to which week you'll end up preferring! I'm sure there's a perfect balance between 'no' and 'yes', but I certainly haven't found it yet! This is such an interesting idea!

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  4. where is this cabin!!! It's so pretty!!

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