I’ve never understood the concept of equilibrium.
I’ve never understood that if I’m on a diet and I eat half an apple pie, I will have to run 23 miles or skip four meals to get back to my starting point. And if eating said pie causes me to rip the crotch of my jeans and I have to drop $60 on a new pair, I’ve never understood that $60 has to come from somewhere. Meaning, I have to cut $60 from my grocery budget, internet budget, or Lord forbid—my morning coffee habit.
It’s so simple, right? If you take something in, you must give something up.
Yesterday was my three-month anniversary at work. In three short months, I’ve learned a lot—one being the very simple truth of equilibrium. It dawned on me my first week of work, when I was going over my marketing budget with my boss. I went to the end of 2016 and worked backward, calculating where I would invest each month.
When the whole thing was signed and approved, all I said was, “But what if something happens? There are going to be expenses I haven’t accounted for.”
“Well,” she said. “Then you better ask yourself if that expense is worth it, and what you’re willing to give up to have it.”
Extra funds don’t just appear when you need money, and the day does not extend when you need more time.
My ultimate demise is wanting to do everything. I want a piece of every assignment, every new product launch, and every possible freelance opportunity. If someone approaches me with a new project, I will always say yes.
Never once, in my twenty-seven years of existence, did I consider that every time I said yes—if I took something on—I must give something up.
Right before I started my job, I was saying yes to everything. I was working on four different freelance assignments—four! Working on that many projects made me feel…important? Like I had my shit together? Like I was sooooo busy and my time was sooooo valuable.
What a joke.
Let me tell you what it was really like: I did not put my best effort into any of those assignments. Not one. To this day, three months later, I have an unfinished blog post sitting on my computer for Primal Palate—a company whose founders are like a big brother and sister to me. How sad is that?
All my life, I thought yes equaled yes and no meant no. Never once did I consider that every time I said yes to a project, I was saying no to something else.
Stop and put this into context of your daily life: Every time you go to happy hour, you say no to the gym. Every time you say yes to helping your friend move, you are saying no to whatever you had planned for Saturday. Every time you say yes to freelance work, you are saying no to dedicating that time to your one major commitment—your job, or your own personal side hustle.
It’s not complicated, but it took me twenty-seven years to figure out.
Saying no has a negative connotation. But it’s not about being an asshole—it’s about making choices. You can only do one thing at any given time. If you have prior obligations, saying “yes” means you say no to those obligations.
The next time you reply with, “Yes, absolutely!” when a friend, colleague, or family member approaches us with a request, ask yourself, “Who am I saying no to?” Then ask yourself if you’re willing to give it up.