Why do you want to determine your Best Yes? Determining can be defined as, "causing something to occur or be done in a particular way." Your Best Yes comes when you decide intentionally and conclusively what’s best for you to say "yes" to.
Knowing our Best Yes allows us to not falter and overcommit. We each only have 168 hours in the week (including the 56 hours we should be sleeping if we get the recommended 8 hours a night). We want to use our time resource wisely and in a healthy way.
The first step in determining your Best Yes is knowing what’s most important to you.
What’s Most Important
What’s most important to you? Your work projects, time with family, time relaxing/resting, time working on your personal fitness, or learning? Whatever it is, identify how you want to spend your time by importance.
Look over your calendar for the last week or month. How much time did you spend doing what’s most important to you? How much time did you spend on other people’s priorities?
It’s been said that our email inbox is “other people’s priorities." Do you have no control, some control or full control over what goes in your calendar? How much of that aligns with what’s most important to you?
Finding that alignment will help you evaluate how you’re doing with your Best Yes. If we know a commitment’s importance and can control it, we have full agency on whether it’s a "No" or "Yes."
Saying no is not selfish! It’s self-respect for your own time and awareness of your own capabilities. It also prevents guilt, resentment, and potentially disappointment from others as a result.
How many times have you said yes to something, only to later regret it or maybe feel a little resentful that you aren’t able to focus on what’s most important to you? Or you said yes with really good intentions, but didn’t deliver and disappointed someone? Both feel terrible.
Let’s look at no from another point of view. When we say no, it allows us to say yes to another opportunity or priority – one that is a more valuable use of our time. It also allows us to actually dedicate the needed time to those things we want to say yes to. Being intentional with our ‘No’ can lead to much more positive feelings.
When you say yes, you are saying no to all other opportunities, which is why we want it to be your Best Yes. Your yes should align with what’s most important and be something that you want to commit to 100%. If you can’t give 100% focus to it and be fully engaged when you do that thing/activity, there’s most likely too much in your calendar.
When we say "yes," we should be saying that knowing that we can commit to it and deliver what we or another wants as a result.
Maybe you or a friend have said yes so much that it results in running around and expending a lot of energy, but not accomplishing anything. In the end, you feel depleted and there’s nothing complete to show for it.
Before saying "yes," ask yourself the following question: “By saying yes to this, will that force me to say no to something else that’s important to me?”
If the answer to that question is yes, then evaluate its importance. You might also consider asking yourself: “How does this opportunity contribute to my priorities?” If you can’t find a reason that it contributes to your priorities, it probably should be a no.
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” Brené Brown
The best way to prevent too many yes responses that should really be a no is to set boundaries. Setting healthy boundaries is the best love we can give to ourselves.
When we set boundaries, we must proactively decide what’s ok and what’s not ok, and why. Writing this out will help you gain clarity and be ready for when requests come your way.
Examples could be:
It’s ok to commit 4 hours per week volunteering because I’m passionate about the cause and it fills my cup.
It's not ok to change plans with a loved one at the last minute because those I love and their feelings take priority over organizations I volunteer with.
It’s ok to spend 2 hours per week coaching/developing per employee because that helps them grow, I can get commitments, and it meets the overall corporate objectives.
It’s not ok for a single employee to monopolize half the day to resolve issues. They have resources or tools to resolve issues independently because I’ve proactively provided them with tools and their job expectations include problem solving.
Knowing what’s important and what our priorities are is key in determining your Best Yes. When you take time to get even clearer on what is ok or not ok, you will be a dynamo at setting boundaries that ensure you can reserve your yes for when you really want to use it.
Letting Them Down Easy
If you’re a doer, that person who always gets things done, you’re most likely asked to volunteer for a lot of things or work on a lot of projects. Or maybe you're the social butterfly who gets invited to every party. Whatever it is that keeps the requests coming, you’ll eventually need a way to say no, but in a way that doesn't offend or create another challenge for you.
Whatever the request, you want to “pump the brakes” a little to give yourself some time to determine if it’s your Best Yes.
Here are some suggestions in response to common requests to give yourself that time:
“Unfortunately, that month doesn’t work for me. Can we look at an alternative month?”
“Your dinner party sounds like a lot of fun; unfortunately, we can’t make it this time. I hope you’ll invite us in the future.”
“That sounds like something I’d like to be part of. However, before I decide, I’ll need to know more about it.”
“I’d love to help with that project; unfortunately, that deadline won’t work with my schedule. Is the deadline flexible?”
“I’d love to be part of that project; however, I’m not comfortable with the role that you are proposing for me. Could we discuss other ways that I might contribute?” (or better yet, “Here’s what I feel I can contribute.”)
The goal of the Best Yes is to commit only to what is truly best for YOU. Only you can be the judge of what that is.
I hope that during this month, you will evaluate what the Best Yes feels and looks like for you. Then, exercise your "no muscle" so that the next 6 months of your calendar will be focused on everything you need and is important to you.
Let us know in the comments what types of requests you get that cause you to struggle with sticking with your Best Yes. Have you tried some of our suggested responses? How did that go?