Here is January’s installment of “Ask Shelby” from Chester County’s own Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Shelby Riley.
I like to have a focus for the new year. I’ve heard so much about saying YES to everything, and so much about saying NO and setting boundaries. I’m not sure which I’m supposed to do: say yes or say no. Help me figure out how to focus my mindset for 2016.
Signed, No Idea for 2016
Dear No Idea,
Saying YES is a beautiful thing. It opens you up to new experiences, new ideas, and new parts of yourself. And saying NO is a beautiful thing. It preserves your energy, keeps you from over-functioning, and lets you focus on the things that are most important to you. I propose you do both. A few years ago a very wise person encouraged me to figure out what I want to say YES to so I can say NO to everything else. I propose you do the same.
I suggest you choose a handful of things to say YES to. If you have been knee deep in your career and you feel like 2016 would be a great year to focus on spending time with your family, then say YES to family time. You might say NO to a promotion that would require you to travel more frequently or work longer hours so that you can say YES to your family more often. If you have been pouring into your family for years and letting your career take a back seat, maybe 2016 is the year of saying YES to your professional opportunities. You might say NO to being the classroom parent so that you can say YES to more projects at work.
If you are saying YES to fun and adventure, then you might spend your time and money one weekend taking a hot air balloon ride and say NO to dinner at your go-to restaurant. If you are saying YES to family time, you might end up staying in to watch a movie with your kids instead of going out for drinks with your friends. This doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing, but when there is a pull in two directions, if you know what you are saying YES to, the decision will be much easier.
I encourage you to put yourself on that short list of YES. Maybe it’s your health, or practicing mindfulness, or saying YES to your creativity. Just make sure you honor yourself and save some energy and focus for you.
This practice has helped me make some major life decisions in the last few years and it’s allowed me to live a life that is congruent with my values, instead of living a life based on what other people want from me. I know clearly what I’m saying YES to, and I feel comfortable saying NO to everything else. I hope that you will do the same in 2016.
Shelby Riley, LMFT is the owner of Shelby Riley, LMFT and Associates, LLC. She is currently the Past President of the Pennsylvania Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (PAMFT). Remember to check out Shelby’s website www.shelbyrileymft.com for useful information about therapy for individuals, couples, and families.