Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Year of No

One of my recent beach reads was Shonda Rhimes' book, Year of Yes. As an avid viewer of Grey's Anatomy, I was curious to learn a little something about the woman behind the powerhouse Thursday night television line-up and, as a fan of Rhimes' characters, I loved her voice in the book. Rhimes' voice is not unlike that of her characters and more than once I found myself smiling at the patter that makes up her chapters.

Although it was a fun read, Ms. Rhimes and I have not only quite different lives, but also quite different problems. As I lay in bed this morning wondering when winter break had morphed from down time to blow-the-dust-off-the-neglected-to-do-lists-and-check-off-as-much-as-possible time, I began to wonder if 2018 should be my Year of No.

I have a long history -- more than half a century -- of saying yes. As I've gotten older, I've gotten better at making more of those yeses things I actually want to do.

Note that I said I've gotten better. I'm still not good at honing my yeses. I still say yes to things I think I should say yes to, even when I'd rather say no. I still say yes to things that other people really, really want me to do, even when I'd rather say no. And, I still have a set of interests so diverse that there's not enough room in a year to do all the things I want to say yes to. I find this last part especially frustrating and perhaps even the root cause behind "breaks" that are more catch up on "stuff" time and less catch up on downtime.

Time, like space, is limited. Just as we can only fit so much stuff into a space, we can only fit so many activities into a day, a week, a month, a year, a lifetime. My fifty-something self has many of the same interests that my twenty-something self had, but my life at fifty-something looks quite different from my life at twenty-something. In some ways, this is good, in others not so much, but the bottom line is that my choices need to be different, too. And, by different, I don't mean narrowed. Some interests have surged while others have faded -- a natural way of making room for new and exciting pursuits. Realistically, though, at fifty-something, it's possible that a few interesting options have already passed me by.

Later this week, I'll be setting my goals for 2018, a process I truly enjoy. By taking the time to reflect, I celebrate successes as well as looking forward to everything I hope to accomplish. Even better, by writing this stuff down, I find I actually prime the pump and end up accomplishing more.

And this year might just be my Year of No -- not in a negative, knee-jerk way, but rather in a thoughtful, deliberate way.

Mohamed Hassan via Pixabay
There are a few advantages my fifty-something self has over my twenty-something self, and most of those have to do with time. With a much better understanding of how precious time is and what it's worth, perhaps it's time for me to spend it a bit more discriminately. Unlike Rhimes, who set a goal to say yes to everything, I need to stop making yes my default response if for no other reason than the simple fact that every yes to one thing is a no to something else.

It should be an interesting year.

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