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!

 

How to Rock Your Day: 3 Reasons Why Your Attitude Matters

At a local lunch place in my town, there’s this bus boy.  His job?  To clean tables after customers leave, making the table ready for the next customer.

But each time I’m there, I watch with fascination the effect he has on others as he takes bussing tables to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL.  This restaurant is the kind where you tell them your name, they announce when your order’s ready and you pick it up at the counter. You take your cup to the drink station and get your drink, napkins, straws, etc.  It’s a self-serve kind of place.

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But if Carlos Slaughter is on duty, that’s not what happens.

Instead, he greets you with a dazzling smile, remembers your name from last time and declares, “Have a seat!  I’ll bring your lunch out!”  Quickly, cheerfully and with a bit of flair, he brings lunch to the table.  “Here you go, Mrs. Connie.  Got enough to drink?  Need some salt or pepper? Alright, you ladies enjoy.” The other customers’ faces light up as he does the same for them.

You would think he was the owner and master chef of an expensive 5 star restaurant!  But  he’s just the busboy.

Just the busboy?  More like a shining ambassador for his place of employment.

Every time I see him, I’m reminded:

It’s not just about WHAT you do, it’s about HOW you do it.

Here are 3 reasons why your attitude matters.

  1.  Your attitude is contagious.  The energy you bring to your meeting, your classroom or home spreads to others and they are affected by it.  I’m told we have “mirror neurons” in our brains that make our emotions catchable.  So take responsibility for the energy and mood you’re spreading to others.
  2. This moment makes your future moments. How you do what you do impacts how people respond to you and very often, the results you get.  I give The Busboy a better tip than many other servers and I suspect other customers do, too.  The way this young man treats others and the excellent way he does his job is sure to open doors for him in the future.  Decide that you will WOW other people with your genuine caring and attention to detail, and watch to see whether you get a different response than usual.
  3. You can make a difference in this world no matter what you do for a living. Busboys are not known for making millions.  Working in the service industry (I’ve been there) can be frustrating.  Customers are in a hurry, in a bad mood, don’t expect to see you again, etc.  It can be tempting to tell yourself, “If I had a really important job, my attitude would be better.” But whatever your job is, don’t miss this truth: YOU IMPACT OTHERS.  Yes, YOU! I can’t begin to tell you the positive impact this young man has on me and every other customer.  He literally makes my day.  He makes my friends and me want to eat there.  He’s the best advertisement this restaurant could have.  Let’s learn from him!  Start infusing everything you do with love and enthusiasm, realizing that you can impact others for good, no matter what you do for a living.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently put it:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (credit: biography.com)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (credit: biography.com)

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music…Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry.  Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

You can hear that speech here.

Think with me here.  What’s an example of HOW someone did something that wowed you?

And what area might shift in your life if you focused on HOW you do something?

Leave a comment because I’d really love to know.  And if you have a friend or co-worker who’s caught in a negative loop and could use a little encouragement, share this with them.

Remember, It’s not just about WHAT you do.  It’s about HOW you do it!

Thanks for reading!

How to Be Amazing with Absolutely No Talent

I sometimes hear folks say if they only had more talent, they’d be more successful.  Talent Schmalent.  Here are seven simple things you can do today to be more effective, to be of greater benefit to others and be considered way cool by your peers.  And they don’t require a lick of talent to do them.

  1.  Show up.  That’s right, just be there. thank_you_0706_clouds_being_thereFrom the most important business meetings to gatherings with friends, if you said you’d be there, be there. Don’t be that person who, when asked, “Gosh, we were worried.  Where were you?”, shrugs nonchalantly with, “Oh, yeah… sump’m came up.”
  2. Be on time.  Typing with head hanging low, I’m sharing with you what I wish I’d learned earlier: tardiness communicates a lack of respect for others.  (Thankfully, and with intentionality, I’ve made progress here.) When you’re on time, you appear more ready for the task and convey consideration for others’ time.
  3. Check your body language.  Maybe you’re in a great mood and feeling love toward all with whom you come in contact.  Great! But if your face is scowling, they catch a completely different vibe. The old saying is true: “If you’re happy, tell your face.”  Are your arms folded in a closed manner while someone talks with you?  Looking elsewhere? Sighing, with an “I wish I was anywhere but here” look? Listen with your eyes as well as your ears.  Look at the person talking with you.   Nod occasionally to let them know you’re tracking.  Resist folding your arms or putting them on your hips.  These stances are unapproachable, authoritarian and make it appear that we think we’re a “know-it-all”.    Open your body to open conversation. And here’s a novel idea: put your cell phone away during meetings or lunch dates.  Unless it’s the doc with your biopsy results, don’t answer.  Don’t even look at it. Wow, how weird would that be?  Pretty weird, but here’s the thing:  Your friend, loved one or co-worker will walk away feeling incredibly valued. It will set you apart in this “Sorry, I gotta take this call” world.
  4. Go the extra mile. When our grandchildren visit, we go to the petting zoo.
    Ella with 8 yr. old miniature alligator.

    Ella with 8 yr. old miniature alligator.

    It’s fun and educational!

    Stephen with um, something green.

    Stephen with um, something green.

    I could sit back and watch, but I go the extra mile.  I want our time together to be fun and memorable.
    IMG_0144_1024But I do draw the line somewhere. The shot below was taken with a zoom from 40 feet.  And frankly, even that’s waaaaaay too close. Forget fun and memorable.  I’ll be in the car, kids.thumb_IMG_2817_1024That’s Daisy, the resident python.  Isn’t it precious how she wraps herself around and plays peek-a-boo?  (I’m gonna have nightmares.)  But I digress. The point is, doing a little more than required sets you apart by showing you care.

  5. Be coachable.  You know a lot, you smart friend, you!  But you don’t know everything.  When someone takes the time to share a potential area for growth in your life, don’t lose the opportunity by being defensive or closed to the idea.  Even if it’s not presented in the best way, recognize that there may be a grain of truth to consider.  “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
  6. Be prepared.  Do the homework necessary to be ready for class, meetings, rehearsals, etc. Don’t make it so others have to catch you up because you didn’t read the article, look over the minutes, acquaint yourself with the proposed guidelines or practice your part of the music.  When you’re prepared, others appreciate it and the project can move forward in a timely manner.
  7. Have a good attitude.  You may not be the most brilliantly gifted at what you do, but when you are generally cheerful, grateful and aim to please, friends and customers alike want to be around that!    thumb_IMG_4255_1024Talent is nice, but whether you have it or not, you can still be a star by using these seven simple things to establish trust, gain greater influence, and be amazing!

I’d love to hear from you!  What else would you add to the list?

 

 

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

May I just tell you how much I appreciate your hanging out with me on my blog and joining me for Life Lessons & Laughter this past year?!  As we begin the new year, I thought I’d feature the post you liked the most (based on views, comments, likes and shares) from the past 12 months.  By a landslide, it was the post about my mom’s mountain climb and her tips for reaching your goals. I can’t think of a better post for New Year’s Day.  And if something inspires you, makes you smile or helps you get through the day, pass it along!  I’ll bet there’s someone in your world who is thirsty for encouragement.

https://conniecarey.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/seven-steps-to-reach-your-goals-from-an-87-year-old-mountain-climbing-grandma/

 

How to Be Successful in God’s Eyes

Most people want to be successful, but how many have actually spelled out what that might look like for themselves? In his book “The Circle Maker”, Mark Batterson encourages readers to pray specific, bold, audacious prayers.  Not just so we can get what we want from God, but so that we can glorify God by defining the dreams He has for us.  It’s a moving target, he explains, as our seasons of life change,  but he suggests that these three priorities should remain constant:

1. Do the best you can with what you have where you are.  We usually focus on what we’re doing or where we’re going, but God’s priority is who we’re becoming in the process.  It’s not so much about being in the right place at the right time, but rather about being the right person, even if you find yourself in the wrong circumstances.

2.   Help people maximize their God-given potential.  Potential is God’s gift to us; what we do with it is our gift back to God.  Helping others blossom into that God-giftedness is wildly satisfying.

3.  Desire that the people who know you the best respect you the most.  Have a desire to be more famous in your own house than out there somewhere.

Batterson says that if you don’t have a personal definition of success, chances are you will succeed at the wrong thing.  “You’ll get to the end of your life and realize that you spelled success wrong. And if you spell it wrong, you’ll get it wrong.”  He encourages readers to define the goals and dreams God wants them to pursue.  “And once you spell your Jericho, you need to circle it in prayer.  Then keep circling until the walls come tumbling down.”