The surprising secret that helps you to say NO!

What happens when you recognize that you don’t have boundaries? What do you do when you realize you cannot say no? Ever. What is the next step towards a life where the way you do the work you love doesn’t work against the life God created you to live?

Earlier this week, I wrote about the importance of boundaries and learning to say no. The blog got some positive feedback from readers like you. I’ve been thinking about how we can move from struggling with boundaries and an inability to say no to the place where we are living in a more healthy and sustainable way.

As I explored the lessons I’ve learned since I first realized my inability to say no, one concept kept rising to the top. It may not be the biggest part of turning the corner in this area, but it may be the first step.

Before you figure out what gets a NO, you have to decide what gets a YES.

My dad illustrated this in a sermon when I was young. He took a giant jar that we used to brew sun tea in and filled it with sand. Then he tried to fit in a number of rocks. He was unable to fill all the rocks in the jar and had many leftover.

He said, “The amount of rice far outnumbers the number of rocks. The rocks are the core values of your life – the most important things. The sand is the less important things – pieces of your life that could come or go. When you don’t figure out the place for the most important pieces first, you will find yourself living a life when you are unable to be true to who you truly are.”

Then, he pulled out the rocks and then dumped out the sand. He put all of the rocks in first and I thought he would have most of the sand leftover. But the “aha!” moment of the illustration is when he is able to fit all of the sand in with room to spare.

Now, you won’t always be able to say YES to everything. You will have to say NO to some really cool things, some exciting opportunities. But when you decide what you are going to say YES to first, it is so much easier to find a place for everything else after that.

The beauty of the summer (or even this weekend) is that most of you will find some time to change the pace of your life. You might even change the place for a few days as well. Mark Batterson, an author and pastor, has a mantra – “Change of pace + change of place = change of perspective”. Embrace the change of perspective that you gain this summer. Decide what is most important in your life. Say YES to those pieces first. Then, consider what you have space for and where you will have to say NO.

If you want to discover what deserves a NO, first decide what gets a YES. Your YES becomes more powerful when you say NO to other things as a result. This is the secret to moving from a scattered, unsustainable life to a focused, successful life.

I would love to hear from you. What have you said YES to recently that is leading you to say NO to other things?

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