24 hours to say ‘yes’

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Sutha Kamal/Creative Commons

“No” is hard for me to say.

It’s not that I’m afraid of someone’s reaction. I don’t enjoy disappointing someone, but I can suck it up.

No, my difficult with “no” stems from two facts: Most things sound interesting to me, and I think it’s unfair for me to expect someone else to do a job that I’m unwilling to do myself.

That results in this scenario: Someone asks me to do something, I say yes, I’m incredibly excited about it … and then a few weeks later I find myself triple-booked for a solid month because I underestimated how much time all those “yeses” were going to take.

You expect hard work in entrepreneurship, but burnout is real.

I have, therefore, stolen an idea I saw passed around Facebook awhile back and re-purposed it for my life.

You might have read about the “24-hour rule” one parent said she’s given herself: Before she responds to an email (one that might be emotional or controversial), she gives herself 24 hours before hitting “send.” Because oftentimes her initial response isn’t the best one and more thought leads to a better outcome.

I’ve altered that to give myself a “24-hour rule” before I say “yes” to any project.

I’m learning to embrace “maybe.” What once was a “yes” is now a, “That sounds interesting. Let me think about it.”

Twenty-four hours gives me time to consider my other obligations and the commitment — both time and energy — this new project would require.

Sometimes “maybe” becomes “yes.” I am, for instance, about to begin a nine-week class about black history.

Sometimes I agree to a compromise: Co-leading Girl Scouts instead of taking it on solo.

But oftentimes “maybe” simply becomes “no.”: Yes, I’d love to organize a blood drive. No, I won’t be able to.

I still struggle a bit with guilt. (I say “no” to running a blood drive and immediately picture dozens of people dying in hospitals because there wasn’t enough blood for critical transfusions. It’s possible I overestimate my own significance.)

I’m buoyed, however, by the relief I feel at being able to fully commit to the challenges I take on.

I’m doing less. But what I’m doing, hopefully I’m doing better.

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