Many (including me) preach that it’s really important to say no, to quit, and to let go of things sometimes in order to live a rich life. In a world where it’s easy to default to “yes” and end up with an overscheduled and overwhelmed calendar, it’s tough to decline the multitude of great opportunities and nagging “obligations” that crop up. Less is (almost always) more, and this holds true in nearly all aspects of life.
Yet, on the contrary, there’s a time and a place to say yes when the easy answer is no. Sometimes, the right opportunity falls into our laps when we least expect it or when it’s particularly inconvenient. In our heart of hearts, we know it ought to be pursued but we can’t imagine where we’ll find the time, money or other resources to chase the dream.
So how do we know when we’ve found the diamond in the rough and it’s time to say yes? I think our intuition knows the answer if we listen carefully, and most of us could afford to become more adept at listening to and respecting its whisper in our ear.
Have you ever had an experience that just felt a little bit like serendipity? You were in the right place at the right time?
I recall hearing so many mentors and successful people talk about taking advantage of opportunities that show up, even if the great opportunity shows up at a time that doesn’t necessarily feel ideal. I detest constant chaos and hustle for the sake of hustle, but I think there’s a time and place to bite off more than we think we can chew.
Just such a situation landed in my lap a few months ago as I checked out with a giant stack of children’s books at our local library.
Here’s The Back Story
I’ve envisioned myself sitting on boards of non profit organizations for many years. It’s been on my radar for so long, in fact, that I requested to serve non-profit clients as a first year auditor when I graduated from college twelve years ago. I hoped and expected I would become more involved in non-profit organizations as I advanced through my career, and I knew accounting and operational exposure would benefit pursuit of my future plans.
As this intention percolated in my mind over the last several years, I’ve explored various service opportunities, but none struck a chord with me enough that I was willing to forgo time with my husband and young children to commit. I expected a seat on a Board would come after years of volunteering with the organization and understanding its ebbs and flows.
Such is not always the case.
Last July, as I checked out at the library, boys in tow, that all changed. Somewhat on a whim and because they needed a new board member from my town, the executive director at our local library asked me about applying to sit on the library’s Board of Trustees.
I’m not sure if it was the giant stack of books we took home every couple of weeks, my demeanor, or just a simple peek at my address that sparked her to make the ask. She doesn’t often man the check out desk (as she’s typically behind the scenes keeping the little library engine chugging and on the tracks) so a handful of circumstances fell into place that she and I were both in the same place at the right time to come together and fill a need.
I told her I’d consider the offer and pondered it as I drove home. Truth be told, my intuition knew the answer, but it wasn’t without plenty of push back from my planner. She offered this opportunity in the midst of an enormous and somewhat overwhelming project at work. T was weeks away from starting kindergarten at a new school, our first foray into public school and no longer on the same daycare schedule as J. We saw football, hockey, basketball and swimming lessons on the horizon. Where would I ever find time to do this well?
Before even arriving in my driveway, I knew this was the opportunity for which I’d been searching. My boys and I are frequent visitors to the library and love reading together. Although I wish I read more, I squeeze in time for about two books per month for myself (which feels like a lot to me). Joining a board of a hyper local organization would also provide a great chance for me to really get to know and become involved in our community, something I’ve finally been motivated to explore after so many years of living in temporary locations.
I called M to discuss, and he offered full support.
I applied, was accepted, and jumped head first into a whole new world. It’s been one heck of a learning experience but just the chance I wanted to build my resume as a valuable contributor to my community and the enriching organizations that make it great.
There Was Never Going to Be a Perfect Time To Say Yes
We’re asked to commit to so many things: volunteering, social events, kids’ activities, family functions, work projects and so much more. We have to say no and quit and walk away and save for later. Most of the time, we already have enough on our plates and additions don’t add value, bring joy, or drive us closer to our most meaningful goals.
Occasionally though, we find the needle in the haystack; something shows up that’s worth making space for. We just have to listen to our hearts to know when those rare gems stand before us. It might still be early to tell, but I’m pretty sure my opportunity to join our local library Board of Trustees was just the thing that deserves a ‘yes’ despite all signs suggesting I already have enough on my agenda.
What do you think? How do you know it’s right to pounce on an opportunity when your heart says “heck yeah” and your brain says “no way”?