Susanna’s 80/20 Suggestion

I finally caught up with the rest of the world and figured out how to get onto Netflix and stream the new comedy, Frankie and Grace. In one episode, octogenarian Frankie (Lilly Tomlin) wants to do a Yes Night with friend Grace (Jane Fonda) to cheer herself up over her recent separation. During Yes Night, you have to say Yes to everything.

The show reminded me of when Chris and I started dating. Like Frankie, Chris was going through a separation and divorce. Having recently watched the Yes Man movie (Jim Carrey), he was inspired to try to say Yes more often. Without getting into a lot of detail, that openness led us to where we are today, blissfully married.

I was reflecting on how often we say No because of our self-limiting beliefs (I can’t. I shouldn’t. I must. I’m not.) instead of embracing what’s possible (I am. I can. I will.) For example, instead of receiving a compliment, we brush it away because we couldn’t possibly be that. Instead of trying something new, we say we’re not interested, or we’re too busy.

At the same time, we are often saying Yes to what we shouldn’t agree to: another thankless task, enabling someone’s bad behavior, doing what others think we should do, or believing our own or others’ negative judgment of us.   Oh sure, I’ll do this for you even if it means I can’t do what I need for me. Yes, I need to make this/me perfect.

I believe we have a tendency to say Yes when we should be saying No a lot of the time, and visa versa. So let’s flip it! Here’s my 80/20 suggestion:

  • Things that don’t feel healthy or fulfilling (such as thankless tasks at work or relationships that feel too dependent) – Say No 80% and Yes 20% of the time.
  • Everything else – Say Yes 80% of the time, especially if the invitation makes you feel uncomfortable. Say No or “Maybe sometime soon” to the rest.

Have trouble saying No? Try these responses. Practice them:

  1. “Let me think about it.”
  2. “Let me get back to you.”
  3. “Maybe later.”
  4. When someone is asking for volunteers, give no response – In your head make a list of all the other things you want to do and envision the positive, glorious outcome if you actually do it.   Perhaps they’ll move onto someone or something else. If not, try Response #1, 2 or 3.
  5. “Doing X won’t work for me, but I can do Y” – If #1-4 fail, offer something that would be easy or fulfilling for you. “I won’t bake cookies, but I’ll donate $10. OK?”

Go try it!   Report back and tell me what doors or ideas opened up for you.  Maybe, like Frankie, you’ll end up wearing pearls and a blazer and dancing on a bartop with your best friend!
Frankie and Grace say Yes!

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