The Incredible Freedom of Saying Yes to Less

To me, life is one big cafeteria line.  And it all looks good! When presented with requests for my time, I often hear myself responding, “Yes, I’d be delighted to do that!”  But just as we can get to the end of the line with too much on our plates, I have sometimes found myself loaded down with more responsibilities than I could handle well.  And it was my own fault.

Have you been there?  If so, you know the feeling. You say “Yes” to something without fully  thinking it through.  It takes more time and energy than you anticipated. You end up feeling frustrated, secretly resentful, and too zapped for the things that really are important to you. And when it’s all over, you regret your choice.

I keep this magnet on my fridge as a reminder.

You’ve lost time you can’t get back! Time you could’ve spent on higher priorities like your personal goals, building your business and especially spending time with your family.

I’ve been saying “Yes” to Less lately.  And the result is greater freedom, joy and room to focus on the things I actually feel called to do.

So if you’re truly ready to stop living in a constant state of overwhelm, do this:

  1.  Give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all.  Realize that everything you say “Yes” to means you’re saying “No” to something else…something that might be higher on your priority list.
  2.  Let “No” be your first response… until you’ve had time to consider the cost.  Rarely say “Yes” on the spot, unless you are double-dog sure it’s something to which you want to commit.  Instead say, “Thank you for thinking of me.  I’ll think it over and get back with you by Monday.”
  3. Say “No”, not just to others, but also to yourself. In other words, say “No” to hours of TV or social media or other non-profitable drains on your time.

One of the things that stops us from saying “No” is not knowing how to say it, especially to friends we love.  And by the way, I’m not talking about saying “No” in a mean way (after all, it’s a compliment to be asked to do something!), but saying “No” strategically, deliberately and with kindness.  Here is a simple formula for saying “No” with grace and elegance.

“Thanks so much for thinking of me.  I’m going to say ‘No’, but please know how honored I am to be asked. “

Another option:

“That sounds like a wonderful project, but I am going to pass.  Thank you so much for thinking of me.  I wish you the best with your project!”

Now, what often happens next is something like this:

“Oh, but you’d be PERFECT for this position/job, etc.! The nominating committee was talking and everyone agreed, we just don’t think we can do it without you!”

My friend, do not cave.  Do not say how stressed you are, or how your husband doesn’t want you to take more on right now, or how on second thought maybe you could fit it in your schedule.  Just say this:

“I’d rather not, but thank you so much for thinking of me.”

Why is this so important?

Because saying “Yes” to too much leaves us exhausted, resentful and overwhelmed.  And besides the fact that it’s no fun to feel that way, you can’t do your best work or make your highest contribution to the things to which you are truly called.

But when you say “Yes” to Less, you get more time, margin, freedom, creativity and energy to devote to the things you love.

I believe in honoring commitments.  But moving forward, let me ask you:  what pending invitation do you need to decline?  Leave a comment…I’d really like to know.  And if you have a friend or loved one who is feeling tired and overwhelmed with too much on her plate, please pass this along.  I wish you freedom, joy and energy as you tackle the things you value most!


My Four Most Popular Posts from 2014

I thought I might share with you my four most popular posts from 2014 based on number of views, likes, shares and comments.   I’m humbled that anyone besides my mom would read my blog! (And even more humbled that my post on Robin Williams, My Dad and the Voice of Truth was viewed over 5,000 times in 24 hours).

Think of these posts as an old fashioned covered dish dinner on the grounds!  Some dishes (posts) are light and sweet like that orange whipped cream stuff my Aunt Wee used to make.  Others are meaty (and maybe even a little hard to chew) like a good old hunk of roast beef.   But they all are intended to encourage you and perhaps inspire you to consider everyday life from a renewed perspective.  Thank you for reading my blog…may you find a little cheer in these Life Lessons & Laughter!

Robin Williams, My Dad and the Voice of Truth

robin-williams-jpgFrom his Mork and Mindy days to Good Morning Vietnam to Mrs. Doubtfire and beyond, Robin Williams literally oozed humor and was a master of all things funny.

But addiction and depression are no laughing matter.

When I consider my father’s battle with the same, and then suicide, I think of this:… Continue reading

Seven Steps to Reach Your Goals (from an 87 Year Old Mountain Climbing Grandma)

This time of year we look back, move forward and set goals for the coming year. Sometimes it’s hard to get started on our journey, but it’s easier when we take that first step, then put one foot in front of another.  Soon, you’re on your way and before you know it, you’ve made some pretty impressive progress, eventually reaching that goal!

To mark her upcoming 87th birthday, my mom climbed North Carolina’s Whiteside Mountain!  Those same steps by which she accomplished her goal can help you reach your’s, too.

Get started.  Having climbed the same mountain 5 years ago, she knew what it would take.  In August, she decided it was time to do it again.  Our family set the date. She began talking about it.  But she did more than that.  She put action to her idea by increasing her daily walking.

Got Any Mountains?

What goal stirs your mind and heart? Getting healthier?  Learning to play the guitar? Starting a new business?

Set your sights.  But do more than talk about it. Do something.  Do anything! Just get started.  The first step is the hardest. Every step after that will be a lot easier.


Have a realistic system and be consistent.  To ready herself for the climb, Mom didn’t run marathons.   Instead, she did something she knew she could realistically do: walk 2 miles a day.  She walked in her neighborhood on pleasant days.  At the mall when it was too hot, cold or rainy.  She even walked up and down her driveway and hallway if the day got away from her and it was too dark to walk the street. But she did it every day.

Is your goal more customers? Be realistic, yet consistent.  Instead of telling yourself you’ll call 20 prospective customers a day, just call one.  And do it every day.

Ask for & receive help when needed.   She knew she’d need help navigating rocky places, so she let us come alongside.  Got Any Mountains?None of us knows and can do everything. Avoid Lone Ranger thinking!

Need a website but aren’t savvy with tech stuff? Pay someone who’s gifted there. Save time and get results faster when you let others’ expertise /experience work for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Chances are, folks will appreciate you thought enough of them to ask.

Break it into doable chunks. She didn’t do the mountain in one piece.  She rested when she needed to.  (We didn’t mind the breaks, either!)

Got Any Mountains?

Is your goal to write a book?  You can’t do it in one day.  But you can sketch an outline. Or write your prologue.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

Be flexible.   Things don’t always work out.  At any point, weather or lack of stamina could’ve prevented the plan from coming to fruition.  She was ready to adjust her goal if necessary.  Others passed her on their way to the top.  She didn’t let it bother her. They were on their schedule…she was on her’s.  In your quest to reach your goals, don’t worry about what other people are doing or how fast they seem to be reaching their goals. Be true to your own goal and trust the timing.

Let the memory of past victories spur you on. 

Got Any Mountains?


Here we are straddling the Continental Divide 5 years ago.





Then last week.

Recalling a past success can bolster confidence for a present goal.




You can do more than you thought you could.  Not every step is pleasant, easy or fun.  But setting your goal, digging deep and watching it happen is SO VERY SWEET!

Mom and I wish you a new year of seeing your goals accomplished and much success on your journey.   Let’s have a great year!