In the saddle feature on CN&CO, saying yes

In the saddle: Saying no is a lot harder than saying yes

Josh Nuttall is a freelance thinker who works with CN&CO on a number of projects. He is an avid cyclist, data/digital nerd, and often shares his thoughts on our blog from in the saddle. Here’s his latest instalment:

In today’s digitally connected and always on world, time is a valuable resource. How we chose to spend our time is an on going question and it ultimately comes down to the choices that we make.

Have you ever used the phrase “I am so busy”? I am 99% sure that you have, I know I have and with a lot of things on the go in our daily lives it is very easy to say… “I am so busy, I will try my best to get to it”.

Let’s take a step back and unpack what this actually means… why are you “so busy”. Firstly, I have come to seriously dislike the term “busy” over the last couple of months.  It’s become one of the those phrases that people use as an excuse, an easy opt out and is used in a similar way to the phrase “I can’t”.

While at junior school in the Eastern Cape and learning to speak isiXhosa, our Xhosa teacher said something that has had a profound effect on me. He said, “can’t is a word that does not exist in the dictionary”. It was his way of telling us that we should stop complaining and rather than using this negative, non-existent, word as an excuse for not being able to get our tongue around the pronunciation of a difficult word. We should approach things positively and learn to embrace challenges, rather than finding an easy way out. Mr Mullins, I wasn’t aware at the time of the impact that your Xhosa classes would have on and I am most grateful for the lessons that we learnt during our time with you.

How does this tie into the context of being busy? Quite simply, actually… I am not one to try and trick you with words. I will leave that up to journalists with a hidden agenda. When someone says “I am so busy, I don’t have time”, there is a negative element to this as they are having to give sometime up or stop doing something because they are too busy.

While there may be loads on the go and at times life may feel like it’s so full that it is overflowing, we do ultimately have a choice and can choose whether we say yes or no to things. Picking whether to say yes or no isn’t easy. I personally have said yes for the wrong reasons and learnt the hard way on a few occasions. Burning my fingers, quickly taught me the importance of thinking things through before just saying yes, while it’s hard to say no. Being honest and realistic to yourself is more important than saying yes to impress people for the wrong reasons.

So, here’s a challenge. Rather look at life, time, your interactions, or however you want to term it as being full. Full because, we have influenced the decisions that we have made and the path that we are on. If we aren’t influencing it then there is a high probability that we are not saying yes or no to the correct things. Full, because it’s positive and is adding to this journey that we are on.

There is plenty of literature and life philosophies on the internet about well-being. Thrive Global is one of these platforms that has a couple of great reads on it and some other pieces shared by the contributors have driven me to take a step back to gain perspective. Another go-to read or podcast of mine lately is the Mission Daily. I recently listened to a podcast from them titled, How to practice gratitude and it reinforced that we have a choice of how and who we spend our time with.

At the end of reading this blog, some readers will think that this view is too simplistic. It may be; we are all individuals after all. But sometimes we need to keep thinking simple, positive, uncomplicated and remember that you don’t always have to say yes to everything.