Saying Yes to Yes
What is waiting for you to say yes to today? Is something stirring in you but you can’t move ahead? Do you wonder if it’s too late in your life to take something on? Maybe you have carefully said yes to the things you 'should', and then realize in the next years that all those ‘shoulds’ were safe, but weren’t really all that life-giving?
I come from a family that values making wise choices and avoiding doing anything not thought to be prudent. For me, that created a habit of putting a lot of time and energy into making decisions and consequently made for a less than juicy life. Even after I made decisions, I spent a lot of time tiptoeing in case I needed to pull back and reverse direction. A wise sage in my life taught me (not easily at first!) that we have to open the door in front of us so that we can see the doors behind it. Life has a grace to it and if we have a clarity about our core, we will ultimately land on our feet. My ability to say yes with greater ease continues to grow to this day!
A Meaningful Yes
Some of us have said yes to too many things and end up over-committed and not very satiated. I commonly see this when people are newly retired. They know they need to fill their time in new ways so they say yes to whatever crosses their path. They may feel busier than ever. And then after a few months or years, they may wake up one day and realize they are just going through the motions of staying busy. It's great to explore either from that core or with a great refinement plan.
In my last writing on saying no, I referred to Dan Rockwell’s blog on Purposeful Abandonment. He wrote, “People who can’t say ‘no’ chase all the spilled marbles at once. They’re confused and empty handed in the end. Too many yeses distract, weigh down, and waste energy.” Do you find yourself having said too many yeses with no refining process?
What's Right for You?
When and how do you say yes to the new in your life? What are the right yeses and the right new for you? What is waiting to come in if you make space and say yes? Just as saying no is an empowering choice, boldly saying yes to the right things (and not everything) helps us move ahead with clarity and in a way that doesn’t deplete our attention or energy.
Boomers are largely the first generation that assume they will have more years in retirement and aren’t simply going to shake their head in regret that it’s too late to try anything different. Time becomes more important as we move on in life so we want to spend it in meaningful ways.
An Intentional Model
I once had a younger client who would go hiking alone in the mountains for a couple weeks each year. He would leave his phone behind so that it was just his own thoughts accompanying him.
On his journey, he would take inventory of his life and the opportunities in front of him. He would make decisions about what he was going to say yes to and what he was going to let go of. And he would get clear on why in both instances. Then he would lay out how he would need to make changes in his habits and routines and relationships to support what he was saying yes to and make sure that fit.
After that was complete, he would come back into his life. I admired his very powerful practice of intentional living. We may not go off to the mountains alone, but intentional time spent taking stock is something we can all do to be very clear where we want to put our time.
What Are You Building Your Yes Around?
When I work with people planning the next chapter of their life, we use a process designed to help build core guideposts for decision-making as opportunities come to us. Retirement is not a time of lack, where we best grab onto whatever comes our way. We get to choose where we put our precious time and energies and how that impacts everything else, including the people in our lives. With clarity about what matters most (sometimes other than the obvious), we are in a better position to say a resounding yes and follow through. Most of us know how to launch into goal-setting, but having a clear core is different. It helps us open to and respond to the pull of new opportunities versus only deciding what we will push forward with in our lives.
One of the gifts of saying yes to the things that matter to us is that we get to see life's grace in full. Our yes propels us into new space to explore that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise...to see those other doors behind the one we're opening.
People at the end of life regret not saying yes to more, not what they did. What have you been putting off?
Questions for Self-Reflection:
Ruth Tongen helps people plan and live meaningful, fun and healthier retirements.