We’ve all been there. Someone asks you to do something. Maybe it’s a favor. Maybe it’s to attend a dinner party.
And it’s in the future.
So you say yes.
Then, when the time comes to do the thing, or go to the thing, you think “damn, I don’t want to!”.
This effect actually has a name: The “Yes, damn” effect.
So, why do you do this to yourself?
Well, humans aren’t particularly good at delayed gratification. And we also aren’t very good at anticipating our future needs.
So, someone asks for something, it’s not happening NOW, and you want to be nice. To be liked. So you say yes.
And then you put it out of your mind. Because it’s not happening NOW. And you have other things to deal with NOW. (Like maybe stuff you said yes to weeks ago that you aren’t super excited about now that the time has come?)
Maybe you’ve even looked at your calendar before you said yes and thought: “No problem, I can do it. My calendar is empty that week.”
You forget that just because your calendar looks empty NOW, doesn’t mean it won’t be full later.
You forget to factor in how your future self will feel because “tomorrow you” is not “today you”. And “today you” doesn’t have to pay the bill that you’ve set up “future you” to pay.
So, what can you do about this?
First, stop saying yes by default.
If it’s just a habit to say yes, I get it, I’ve been there. Trust me; this is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.
If you’re default is to say yes, I want you to create an “if/then” plan.
Instead of saying yes, your new default will be “Thanks for asking. Let me check my schedule and get back to you.”
This will buy you some breathing room to actually think through the request, opportunity or event BEFORE you say yes, so you can make a decision that your future self will approve of.
And because you know that unless you make intentional change, you’re likely to be just as busy in 6 months as you are now, I want to give you a framework that can help “today-you” make better decisions for “future you”.
This framework is called the “heck yes test”. And I’ve created a helpful little flowchart for you.
Now, does this mean that everything you say “heck yes” to will be something you really want to do from an enjoyment standpoint? No.
Think of “heck yes” as encompassing all the things you truly, viscerally, are excited and looking forward to as well as things that are a “heck yes” for other reasons that aren’t pure pleasure. For instance, I don’t LOVE getting up early to get my kids breakfast and out the door on time. BUT, it’s a “heck yes” because it’s very important to me that they eat a nutritious breakfast. Or, last year I went to a Mountain Goats concert, not because I like the Mountain Goats that much, but because my husband LOVES them and wanted to go and him getting to have a good time is a “heck yes” for me.
So, the next time you get asked to do something, asked to go somewhere, or are presented with an opportunity, I want you to think “Do I want this to be a “yes, damn”? Or a “heck yes”?”
And then act accordingly.
Even if it makes “today you” a little uncomfortable, “future you” will thank you.
As they say, there’s no growth in the comfort zone!
And, in case you need a few tips on how to say no, if you’re no longer going to be saying yes by default, here you go!