This last weekend I faced a big choice. Just over five miles from my home in La Quinta, CA a mega-concert aimed at Baby-Boomers called “Desert Trip” was scheduled. Legendary rockers like The Rolling Stones, Paul McCarthy, The Who and Bob Dylan were slated to perform. Sure, the concert was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear some amazingly talented icons in the business. However, the prices to attend for a good seat were equally astonishing—at least for me! I did make an effort to buy tickets online within my budget, but when those tickets sold out, I decided to make the best of the situation and try something else I’ve always wanted to do—rent out my house on Airbnb. Did I make the right decision? For me, yes. But how I arrived at that decision is something that I need to remember over-and-over as time goes by.
How many times do we all tackle a similar decision, or make one, and then face either regret or FOMO? (fear-of-missing-out) I’ve talked about both FOMO and regret in other posts, but never aimed directly at the choice point of either. What helps us decide? How do we ever know if we’ve arrived at the best choice?
The Power of The Bigger Yes!
Most of the time I think people believe that if they want to live their dreams, they need to learn to say “No” to the things holding them back and “YES” to those choices they want. But when you think about it, not only do we have to say no to many of the more obvious things, we also have to say no to a lot of choices we often want as well. Know what I mean?
There is part of me that knows I would have enjoyed going to Desert Trip, especially if I could have done it with friends. I love music, am deeply familiar with the songs of the artists and mix that up with friends and I’d be happy. But when I didn’t get the tickets I wanted for the price I wanted, and most of my friends didn’t either, I had a choice. Do I want choice #1: to pay a lot more and perhaps limit my other options for travel or fun? Or, do I want choice #2: to turn this around into something that not only intrigues me, is financially rewarding, and also a fun experience? I choose #2.
When it comes down to it, most of us are faced with dozens of choices every day. Do I take the day off or go to work? Do I spend time writing when the weather is so perfect, and I’d rather be outside? Do I call a friend to chat or instead knuckle down and do that thing I’ve been putting off for a long time?” Do I stick with my diet or eat that yummy chocolate cake? Do I read that book that’s on my list or just turn on the television? Every single day we are faced with lots of choices about things that would be fun, interesting and doable. Unfortunately, most of us are usually wishy-washy about our priorities in life, and then we run around saying “Yes!” to a lot of things that may be good, but not our “best.”
Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, says it perfectly with, “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”
Knowing The Difference Between The Little Yes And The Bigger Yes
A great example is a good friend of mine named Jack who is always juggling about ten great opportunities grabbing his attention. He is fun to talk to because he’s filled with passion and enthusiasm—and many of his ideas are quite good. The problem is, nothing changes. If I talk to him next week, the only thing different will be the description of the opportunity. Unfortunately, Jack’s “best” is nearly always victimized by his abundance of “good” ideas.
Writers regularly face the same choice. The best way for a writer to succeed is to write. But it is amazing how many “good” excuses we all can come up with to distract us. The same thing happens with those who say they want to rightsize or go debt-free. Even if you agree that rightsizing and going debt free are “best” for you, if you are distracted by all those actions that sound “good” instead, you’ll never live your intentions or achieve your goals.
Finding Your Bigger Yes!
Before we can ever choose the bigger yes, we need to take the time to discover what it is that is most important to us. Sure, we can say we’ve always wanted to be a writer, a good parent, travel the world, or weight a certain weight, but unless we make it a priority we will always be sacrificing that “best” for something merely good. And if you think about it, that “good” is usually an impulsive “want” that tickles our fancy in the moment. So how do we find our bigger yes?
- We must learn to prioritize. I offer plenty of ideas here on SMART Living 365 or in my book about Rightsizing.
- We must clearly analyze our trade-offs in light of our priorities. (For more, see my post on Trade-Offs.)
- We need to have the discipline to say no to the sorta-good stuff as much as the bad. And as I remind myself regularly, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
I know some people who attended Desert Trip last week and the photos and descriptions on Facebook sound fantastic. But like much of what we see in the media, on Facebook, or other social outlets, most people only share the highlights or the best possible perspective. Unless it’s notoriously bad, people seldom talk about the cost, the heat, the dust, the traffic or 75,000 people all jammed together to watch a concert on a screen from miles away. Again, I’m sure that for some people it was a big YES and they enjoyed it. But more importantly was realizing it was just a small yes for me.
If we think about it, we can’t have every single thing we’d like to own or do every single thing that happens in the world around us. We have to choose. Learning to feel good about our choices and selectively say yes to those things that are bigger and best for our individual lives is what I call rightsizing. But regardless of what you call it, it is always SMART to know the difference between the little yes and the big yes, and consciously choose the best every single time.