Many folks these days have a case of the terrible "toos".
Too busy. Too many. Too much.
These days, it is such a common complaint that it seems like a normal experience. That doesn't mean though, that it is optimal — it just means that the majority of us are doing it.
Are we happier? Are we accomplishing more? Are we more successful?
Many of us are sensing that more is not better. But in the midst of a culture that glorifies "more, better, bigger" — how do we chart a different course? The thought of swimming upstream can feel equally overwhelming.
If you're on a mission to reclaim your time, your focus, and your energy, the good news is that you can start small.
The journey starts with "no".
If you are like me - curious and excited by possibility — that realization is uncomfortable. Perhaps you WANT to say "YES" — to life, to possibility, to opportunity — to all the people, missions, and causes that are dear to your heart. Saying "no" might feel like a betrayal to any one of these.
What if I disappoint someone?
What if someone thinks ill of me?
What if something isn't done the way I would do it?
What if I lose an opportunity?
Such fears are linked to a scarcity mindset, and when they arise, we are wise to remember that saying "no" is only part of the story. Rather than focus on what we might lose by saying "no", it is helpful to shift our perspective and ask ourselves - "What am I saying yes to?"
Consider the example of a tomato plant. If you've ever grown one, you may have learned that tomato plants readily put out small shoots called "suckers" wherever a branch meets the stem. If you don't prune them, every shoot becomes a separate branch. The plant soon becomes large and sprawling— just like our lives.
Saying "no" to some of the shoots, has some important benefits. Pruning away extra shoots creates space and air around the remaining branches, which makes for a healthier plant. The fruit on the plant gets larger, because the plant's energy isn't divided up so many ways. Because the plant's energy is more focused, the fruit even ripens earlier!
Saying "no" to extra shoots (and the fruit they might produce), means saying "yes" to the remaining fruit — and allowing it to flourish. What a metaphor!
Where would we like to feel more spaciousness and energy? What fruits are we producing? Which ones are most important to us?
As gardeners of our own lives, having a clear vision can help us in those moments when we are tempted by "extra shoots", and allow us to say "no" with clarity and grace.
The year is wrapping up, and now is the perfect time to reflect on what we have "harvested" this year and plan for the new year. What do we want to cultivate? Where do we long to say "YES"?
May we learn to listen to our wisest selves - pruning when needed so that we can nurture what is most important to us and bringing forth our best fruits.