Most decisions can be made with a Yes or a No. We like to be “Yes” people. Yes is a more positive word than No. A problem can occur when we say Yes to too many things. We say yes to our boss, yes to our family, yes to the church, the school, the club, and the neighborhood. Before we know it we are overwhelmed with the things we have committed to.
On top of that, we say yes to ourselves in an attempt to lose weight and get more fit. Because we said yes to too many other things and people, we tend to not hold ourselves accountable to the yes we told ourselves we would do. Unfortunately, it’s normal human nature to disappoint ourselves rather than disappoint someone else we care about.
Let’s talk about disappointing ourselves. We have one life here on earth. At least in this country, we get to choose how we spend our life. We can make decisions about our education, our friends, our career, our finances, our close relationships, and our leisure activities. We can choose what we eat, what we do, and if we are active or not.
These choices lead us in a particular direction. Saying yes to exercise will lead us in one direction and saying No to exercise will lead us in the opposite direction. Eating packaged and processed food every day leads us one way and eating healthy more natural foods leads us the other way.
One thing we must learn to become more in control of our lives is how to effectively say No to most of the choices or options presented to us. Because we don’t like to offend or upset people we associate or care about, we often say Yes when we shouldn’t. Some people are a bit more obscure and say “Try” instead of a definitive Yes or No.
Think back to an event you were invited to. If you said “I’ll try to make it”, you were really saying, “that’s not important to me and I won’t go, but I didn’t want to make them feel bad.” We must stop using “Try”. There is no Try, Do or Do Not as Yoda said. Our decision making vocabulary must be Yes and No. It is easy to say no and not offend someone.
I ran into this issue many years ago when I was involved in the administration and politics of a local hospital. When you joined one committee, you were often asked to join another and then another, and then to be head of a department and then to be chief of staff. It satisfied the hospital’s needs and also stroked my ego, but eventually started taking up so much time, I rarely saw my kids. I was listening to an audio program on controlling your schedule and learned a valuable lesson.
I learned two techniques. The first technique was important when I really didn’t want to do something but wanted to be kind to the inviter. I would say “I am honored and appreciative that you would consider me to take on this task (or whatever they were wanting me to join or do), but at this time my other obligations are making it impossible to say yes”. “Don’t hesitate to ask another time.” That is a pleasant No.
The second lesson was to always say Yes. However, along with the yes came a decision the asker would need to make. If my boss or superior asked me to take on another project, I would say Yes, and asked them to just let me know which of the other items I’m doing you want me to put on hold. This I used for meetings, events, tasks, and projects. We can only do so much. I wanted to be a Yes person, but also wanted to control my life.
These two techniques served me very well and to my knowledge never offended anyone. When we are focusing on getting healthier and are on a specified eating plan and a scheduled exercise regimen, we must be able to say no to many other things. When a friend asks you to join them for Happy Hour, we must be able to say No. “I always love going to happy hour with you, but right now, I’m obligated to something extremely important and have to work on it. Of course what you’re working on is you. It is extremely important.
I usually don’t get into details of what is so important because most people, friends included, will discount the importance of your eating or exercise plan. They’ll just tell you to do it tomorrow. If you give in and make the exception, it is hard to get back on plan. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to restart a reduced calorie diet after you make exceptions on vacation?
When you are exercising daily and skip one day, it is nearly impossible to get right back at it the next day. This is what I call the Law of Exception. Once we make an exception to our important plan, getting back to that plan is difficult. One exception can destroy a whole program. It’s kind of like the old commercial for Lay’s potato chips. Bet you can’t eat just one.
If we know that its easy to say yes and hard to say no, we must come up with solutions like the two I outlined so we are always prepared. We must know exactly what to say to anyone who may unintentionally take us off our track. Learning these hacks on how to stay on point and how to stay focused are critical to reaching the goals we said we really wanted.
What we are really doing is saying Yes to our health, our vitality, and our life. We will say Yes to our friends, our bosses, our associates, many times in the future, but learning when and why will set us free to live the life we want.The “No’s” are every bit as important as the yes’s. Sometimes we must say No to things we really would like to do or have, but gaining that discipline will serve us well.
There is an art to decision making. Successful company CEO’s say No to far more ideas than they say Yes to. Apple, one of the largest and most successful companies in the world has just a handful of very good products. They charge handsomely for them. They get thousands of ideas for new products or innovations every week or month. The CEO must say no to many, many great ideas to stay focused on producing a few incredible world changing products.
We must run our lives the same way. Many thousands of ideas, events, tasks, and people will present situations for us to say Yes or No to. If we want to live life on our own term, we must learn to say no to almost all of them. We must decide what we want our life to be like.
A great book illustrated this better than anything I could ever tell here. The book is called “The On-Purpose Person”, written by Kevin McCarthy. He explains through a series of parable-like stories how to find your life’s purpose. Once you have found and understand your life’s purpose, every decision can be weighed and made as to whether it is On-Purpose or Off-Purpose. We say yes to On-Purpose and No to Off-Purpose. I highly recommend this book if you feel like your life is like a pinball getting bounced around.
By the way, finding one’s purpose is not as easy as just reading the book. It will take some dedicated thought and inner discovery to get their. Once we know our life’s purpose (why we are here) decisions become very simple and easy to make. Being healthy is always a high priority to someone with purpose. It’s impossible to live a life with purpose if we are unhealthy. When we are sick or weak or unhealthy, our focus and purpose becomes getting healthy and our true purpose is supplanted.
Now, this Yes or No discussion may have gotten a bit more heavy than I had planned, but these are important concepts for each of us to ponder and act on in the current world which will steal our time, distract us from our focus or purpose, and lead us down trails that end abruptly and without meaning.
Take at least a bit of time to think about this and a question I often ask my patients who seem to be struggling in any aspect of life is…”Do you know what your purpose in life is?” Most are usually stunned and have no clue as to what the answer might be. Today is a good day to ask yourself the same question. “What is my purpose?”