When you read that word you likely had an immediate kinship to how one feels because most of us know this feeling all too well. It sucks. But how do you stop it? We all hear learn to say NO! Okay great...low hanging fruit. What do you do when that fruit is gone and now you’re dealing with all the things that you want/should/have to do? I asked my coach Keith Waggoner this question and got some interesting advice in return.
He taught me that there are big yeses and little yeses. What the heck does that mean?!
When we get overwhelmed it's because there are so many things we want to say yes to. We want to do it all, not let people down, etc. In other words, it's everything we can’t say no to. These yeses add up: Enter 'overwhelmed'.
What is a little yes vs a big yes? A big yes is a TOP priority. You don’t break the rules on these. The problem is that we don’t stop to think and bring conscious awareness to what our top priorities ARE, so we get all jammed up with little yeses. Little yeses are what pull us in a million directions. They are culprits that overwhelm. We want to do them, but should they be done at the expense of our truly BIG yeses? If we’re not aware of them, our default is to accept them because they're little and don’t require the word no.
Here’s my interpretation on how to embrace this concept:
- Learn to say NO to what you should say NO to.
- Figure out your BIG yeses. What are your true priorities? Goals? BOUNDARIES? These are your ironclad MUSTS. This is not easy. In fact, it’s shocking how difficult it is to know what you really want. Not what everyone else wants you to be and do, but what you It takes a lot of deep thought to make these kinds of decisions.
- Once you have your BIGS, be aware of them constantly. When you need to make a decision, ask if it's moving you toward a big yes. Any big yes decisions or actions take PRIORITY – always. This requires major commitment.
- Dealing with small yeses, and learning to say no to them is hard. I’m not there yet and see how this will take time, discipline and changing your habits. We allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed, and that’s the brutal, honest truth. Do you keep allowing it?
I think this concept can be life changing. However, it's not for the faint of heart.
I personally feel you need to be at a point in your life where you want to take charge and live the way you want to live verses being a ping pong ball.
This is a way of living that requires practice for mastery. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that even having moments of being aware that something is a big or little yes is progress.
Poor Bill is going to learn my BIG yeses and I’ll ask him to call me out when I’m struggling and neglecting them. Let’s see how that goes! But seriously, I will hear him and it’ll make me aware ...and that’s powerful. If you have someone like this in your life, enlist them to help hold you accountable. Don’t give up on your quest to conquer the overwhelmed!