Yes or No.

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on March 3, 2008
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Over the course of the past year, I’ve been trying to become better at saying “no.” People had been telling me that I was overwhelming and overburdening myself…taking on too much…and I couldn’t really argue. As the result of an always-hectic schedule, I was consistently tired, never worked out anymore, and had terrible eating habits. (Looking back, this is probably how I gained 30-odd pounds in the past eight months and, let me tell you, it’s harder to take off than it was to put on.)

But, very slowly, I have been learning to feel less guilty about saying no, and life has become more manageable.

But then I read Danny Wallace’s Yes Man.

So yeah. This is yet another post about yet another inspirational-type stunt-memoir.

All of a sudden, they seem to be the only thing on my to-read pile.


The premise of Yes Man is this: Danny Wallace vowed (hell, he even penned a manifesto) to say “yes” to absolutely everything for the course of a year.

And then, luckily for us, he wrote about it.

But I’m not writing this post merely because Yes Man was such a delightful read (which it was). Nay. Though this book made me laugh out loud like a loony tune several times, I’m writing this post because it also inspired me.

At first, we are treated to Wallace saying yes to the most inane and ridiculous things. (One particularly awesome running gag is his susceptibility to spam mail from a beleaguered sultan looking to transfer large sums of money.) But then, there are chains of yeses that visibly change him, giving him opportunities that heretofore he would never had, allowing to experience things that heretofore would never have entered his orbit.

At one point, the words of a hypnotist (who just happens to hypnotize people with the help of his dog), resonate with Wallace (and with the reader as well): “When you think about it, probably some of the best things that have ever happened to you in life happened because you said yes to something. Otherwise things just sort of stay the same.”

So…if your life will benefit both from learning to say yes, and learning to say no, how do you choose!?

I have the feeling that it’s perhaps best to learn to say no to the things you would normally say yes to due to feelings of misplaced guilt and/or obligation.

And it’s best to learn to say yes to the things you would normally say no to due to feelings of fear or laziness.

Got that?

Are there any points in your life that you can pinpoint where you directly benefited from saying a yes or a no?


How to Find More Time, Part Three — Personality

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on January 2, 2008
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I’d like to officially welcome you all back from the holidays. I tried to throw a few posts in there directly after xmas, but now we can really get back on track with finding more time (um, now that my schedule should finally be getting a whole lot less insane, but whatevs).

The next pillar in Laura Stack’s Find More Time is Personality. What this refers to are your regular habits, behaviors, and choices. Some of her oh-so-helpful advice:

  • Learn how to say no. Oh lordy, this is a tough one for me, and one I’ve only begun to move forward with (hence my proofing at the newspaper this past Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, instead of bonding with my family members, and singing five masses at Christmastime). Learn to set boundaries with others, and also with yourself. Don’t do things out of guilt. Do them because you truly need to or want to do them.
  • Delegate. Learn to swallow your pride and ask for help when you need it. You’re not conceding defeat by admitting that you need help, or by acknowledging that someone else may be able to handle the task at hand better than you.
  • No procrastinating! I like to tell myself that I do my best work when spurred on by pure, unadulterated fear, but seriously folks. The more niggling little tasks you have rotting in the back of your mind, the more stressed you’ll feel. Why do that to yourself when it would be so much easier and pleasurable to just cross that task off your to-do list for good? Speaking of lists, it feels damn good to cross stuff off of them.
  • Don’t multitask. Really. Sometimes, when you try to juggle several things at once, you end up finishing nothing. And the things you do finish may not be up to par, because they did not receive your full attention. It’s often best to concentrate on just one task, all the way through to its conclusion, before moving on.
  • Be positive. Accept responsibility for your own stress levels. Most of the time, it’s not about that darn streak of bad luck. It’s about the way you handled it. You can read more about this in one of my previous posts.
  • Stop trying to please all of the people all of the time. This has a heckuva lot to do with our first bullet point.

Previous posts in this series covered Plans and Priorities. Next stop: Pests.