I’m standing in my closet, searching for the BIG YES as I take a look at my “stuff.” Since our last move, I’ve given away many items that have worn out their worth. Plus, I feel much lighter since I’ve sent most of my children’s treasures to them. As Greg McKeown points out in his book Essentialism, I want to separate the “trivial many from the vital few.”
Triviality isn’t only in the back of your closet or in the garage. It also appears as an invitation, activity, project, or anything that takes time.
At first glance, getting to the vital few may feel overwhelming. However, after shedding myself of over 3000 pounds of “stuff” with the move to a smaller house, the weight lifted from my shoulders is palpable. We need this same principle applied to the 24 hours we have every day so our time is spent on things that are absolutely essential to life.
It’s exciting to think of all the space we can create in our closets and in our schedules simply by asking ourselves whether this is an OH, YEAH! or is it a simple NO, THANK YOU. It works in all areas of our lives.
If it isn’t in your top 10%, then consider it trivial and move on. Whether it’s an old sweater or 15 minutes pulling weeds with your next-door neighbor, now you have time and resources available to dedicate to that 10% of things that matter most. With your life unencumbered, you have choices.
Here’s how to go for the BIG YES:
- Dare to say NO. You cannot say YES until you say NO. Courageously practicing phrases like, “I have another commitment” (even if it is an appointment with yourself), or “I’m sorry, that doesn’t work for me” or “It doesn’t fit into my schedule.” When your BIG YES items are on your schedule first, saying NO becomes easier. The fog of guilt fades away as you remove piles of trivial “stuff.”
- Post your daily Top Six. Make your to-do list as long as you want. However, each day write down your Top 6 only. Post your list where you can see it throughout the day. Make it a habit to base your choices on what you value most. If you only get the top three done, don’t worry. It simply goes back on your to-do list.
- Protect your greatest asset. That’s you! If you choose to risk things like your health, you cannot serve others. Don’t wait until the doctor tells you to stop. You are your greatest asset, so fill your own cup, then you’ll have enough to share. Look at your basic needs like healthy food, eight hours of sleep, and quality exercise. Choose wisely NOW or the decision will be made for you later.
- Schedule quiet time. Serenity allows your mind to explore new possibilities. Use break-time at work to rest your mind and body. I wake up 10 minutes early every day, allowing time to stretch and contemplate. Many times my concerns the night before work themselves out before my feet land on the floor.
- Take time to play. Your body and brain need time to jump, dance and laugh wholeheartedly. I turn up the music to get the blood and oxygen flowing. Playtime reduces stress and makes your productivity levels go way up.
- Go for daily wins. Small, quality decisions have a bigger impact over time. Keep a succinct journal and/or allow a coach to hold you accountable. You will see progress as you make the BIG YES choices. Daily wins and gratitude keep you motivated.
- Empower your routine. Your brain craves creativity, but it also needs the space to process. When you have a routine, your brain doesn’t have to engage in routine decisions you’ve already made. This gives you the ability to focus on the essential things and arrive at the BIG YES sooner.
- Wait for it… wait for it… Now! There’s nothing like the feeling of success when you’ve hit the mark. Practice patiently going for the BIG YES by taking a breath, then choosing the better parts in life. Adding oxygen to your brain regularly will give you clarity you need.
It’s your life! Make it a great one.
You’re worth it.