Decisions are trickier to make than you think.

Several years ago, I got an exciting opportunity to serve on the board of a large local non-profit organization. It was an easy and immediate yes for me since for a few years I had liked the image of myself as someone who serves on a non-profit board – That image would do good for my business, I thought.  

Before I knew it, I was committed for two years and was spending more time working for my non-profit than I was for my business. As much as I tried to ignore it, my bank account kept reminding me.

I hadn’t thought it through. Even though I enjoyed the volunteer work, it took time and energy away from my main goals, leaving me with a constant feeling of ‘being behind.’ In addition, my family and kids were pushed to the sidelines.

I had said yes to a great opportunity that was not serving my long-term vision. By doing so, I had said no to developing my own business, achieving my over-all goals, and spending quality time with my kids.

Living in misalignment with my most important values and goals left me worried, stressed, and miserable.

Life is a balance between yes and no. Like a DNA helix, these two polar opposites are woven together into a tight rope on which we balance our daily lives. It’s never just one or the other; one is never without the other. 

eva fanari

Here’s the lesson I learned.

Decision-making should always come from a place of collected thoughts and centeredness, and never from a heightened state of emotions.

What may appear as an easy yes, may in the long run be completely misaligned with your long-term goals and take away from your family. Sure, it may appear to be an awesome and fun opportunity, but ask yourself: is it something that satisfies me down the road, or is it making me say no to my core goals?

I should’ve asked that questions.

So even if your initial response is Oh yes! allow your decision to “marinate” in your mind. Excitement is a highly charged emotional state, and not a state of calm and rational thought.

A new opportunity may sound fun and beneficial in the heat of the moment but if it’s not aligned with your bigger goals and values, it’s sucking up your time, diverting your life energy, and diluting your focus.

The same applies for Hello no!

A few weeks ago, late on a Tuesday evening, I received a phone call asking for me to serve in a committee of a different non-profit of which I’m a member.

My immediate answer was Oh hell no!

I was tired of the day and stretched thin (all my own doing.) I knew my calendar was jammed, even the weekends. I had sworn to myself that “nothing can be added.”

But this time I knew better.  

A tired brain is more dangerous than a brain under the influence.

dr. satchin panda

I knew I had to walk my own talk, and I replied with the best answer you can give about any decision making:

“Thanks for thinking of me. I will think about it, take a look at my schedule, and will get back to you by Thursday night.”

Late next morning, as I was going over my responsibilities and goals, I realized that what I had been asked to do for that non-profit was going to help me gain confidence in the skills I really needed. My Hell no became Oh yes.

Whether you are negotiating, committing, or making decisions, yes and no are two sides of the whole. You can’t hold onto one without holding onto the other. Saying yes to something, means you are saying no to something else.

To what are you saying YES? To what are you saying NO?

Thank you for the photo by Karolina Kolodzie!