It’s no exaggeration to say that as awesome as the holidays are, they come with a certain amount of pitfalls. Diets are in jeopardy, curfews are blown, and budgets are pushed beyond their limits. It just goes with the territory, and we all seem to understand the rules by now. But, one thing that seems to happen every December that can have an averse effect on your life and career is overextending yourself or, as I like to call it, developing “Yes Man Syndrome.”
There are two major reasons that we fall into Yes Man Syndrome: 1) We’re too accommodating and are afraid to say “No”; and 2) We fool ourselves into thinking that we need to say “Yes” to everything in order to get ahead. Unfortunately, regardless of the reason, the result is usually the same — feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and maybe even a little resentful. Worse, by not being judicious about the things you’re saying yes to, you often find yourself unable to reach the goals you set for yourself because you’re taking on things that are impeding your progress. You may remember my blog post on making smart investments from a couple of weeks ago, where I mentioned a client of mine that I dubbed “The Yes Man” because he took on absolutely everything that came his way. Well, I called him that because he had a serious case of Yes Man Syndrome.
I’ve found that this hits home for a lot of artists, particularly because they often have to juggle multiple jobs to pay the bills in order to practice their art. But, it’s not just jobs that they're juggling, is it? It’s jobs, social lives, family commitments, domestic responsibilities, and all the rest. And at the end of the day, a lot of artists find that they don’t have time for the one thing they feel truly passionate about – their craft.
The solution? Obviously, it’s being more selective. But, that can be easier said than done, right? So, to help you in the fight against Yes Man Syndrome, I want to introduce you to Yes & No Commitments. The idea behind Yes & No Commitments is that in order to say “Yes” to the things that you really want, you need to say “No” to others. Trust me on this one, I’ve learned over the years that saying no without feeling guilt or shame is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. And I’m only talking about saying no to the commitments that are truly getting in the way of what’s most important to you, not everything that comes your way.
Take the time to really think about how you’re committing yourself these days. Are there things you wish you could be doing but don’t have the time for? Do you keep pushing off certain goals until that elusive “someday” because you’re too overworked to do anything about them? Are you simply longing for something specific? Write it down, whatever it is – just seeing it can have a major impact on your ability to make it a priority.
Next, think about the things that you could say “No” to in order to fit whatever it is you just wrote down into your life. Are you going out too often? Are you taking care of others too much? Do you watch an excessive amount of TV? Write it all down. Whatever you can come up with, just get it down until you’re out of ideas.
Now, take a look at your two lists and – you guessed it – make some commitments. What are you willing to say “No” to from your second list in order to say “Yes” to the things on your first list? This is about sacrifice, which isn’t always easy, I know. But, what you’ll discover is that if you want something bad enough, you’ll be more willing to make those sacrifices. And you should definitely write down how you’re going to do these things, like this: “I will say NO to ABC in order to say YES to XYZ.” Seeing them next to one another should help give you the oomph you need to see it through. I go through a more comprehensive version of Yes & No Commitments along with some other support tools for overcommitting yourself in the Artists In Action Goal Setting & Time Management package, so check it out if you want to really go the distance with this idea.
In the end, it’s simply about being smart when it comes to committing yourself. And the holidays, in particular, can be tricky when we’ve got parties galore on top of extra shifts at the restaurant and all kinds of shopping to do. Try as we might, we can’t do it all. But, with a little thought and careful planning, we can manage to fit in the things that really resonate and still have some fun on top of it!