Yes, no, and what really matters

Sage CohenFierce writing, Productive writing6 Comments

It’s that time time of year when many of us are reckoning with how 2016 went down while also anticipating what 2017 will be. Here at Sage Headquarters, I’m appreciating a practice I’ve adopted this year that makes this process a bit more streamlined than usual. It started like this.

When I turned 47 this year, I promised myself that I’d start living like a woman of my age—meaning that it is no longer realistic to expect that I have the energy, stamina, and brainpower of a 27-year-old woman. It has taken me much of the two decades between these two ages to learn this lesson, because I have endless goals and dreams along with a great many responsibilities.

After reckoning with the truth of my not-quite-superhuman resources, it was time to come up with a system for prioritizing my commitments. That’s when I made myself this diagram.

What this means to me is: When I clarify what really matters to me, it’s far easier to identify when to say YES. And because every YES requires saying NO to other possibilities, it’s far easier to let go of those opportunities when I am clear about their lesser importance.

This approach has helped me manage my time, energy, and money far more effectively. For example, because publishing Fierce on the Page was a top priority for me in 2016, I said NO to a number of client projects, social invitations, and volunteer opportunities that would have made it impossible for me to deliver on this commitment. And when I made a contribution in your honor to Together Rising in response to the devastation in Aleppo, I identified how I would reduce spending elsewhere to make up the difference.

See what I mean? Every YES anchors our deepest commitments and greatest goals. And every NO frees up more resources to fulfill them. {tweet it} When we clarify what matters and stay grounded in that sweet spot, we don’t have to perform like a 27-year-old for the rest of our lives. Because we’ve aligned our time, energy, and money with what we really want. And this gives us the best chance of getting it.

How do you manage your time, energy, and money in a way that reflects your desires and values? What will you say YES and NO to in 2017?

6 Comments on “Yes, no, and what really matters”

  1. I am going to conserve my energy and do some writing and artwork in 2017 since I have several health problems. I wanted to try to schedule a small art exhibition and poetry reading at a Sellwood area retail shop, but I am not in shape for that now. Your book was very inspiring to me and I recently got divorced so I know how bad things can get all at once like what happened to you.

    Thank you Sage.

    1. Wishing you well in your healing process, Lisa. I am sorry for your struggles and happy to hear you will be taking good care of yourself in 2017.

  2. I turned 90 yesterday, have always been an artist and writer, live in senior public housing, enjoy a photography class, have no children, health-wise, so far so good!

  3. I do struggle because I am old, much older than 47. After early retirement from a job that caused me a lot of pain and stress, I retooled my life to one of artwork and writing, and along the way I made new friends, a lot!. I volunteer at a care center, so fulfilling! I also reconnected with a former best friend. I belong to two book clubs and a critique group. I know, it all sounds good but I experience anxiety that it will all disappear because of so many years of what I perceived as failure and loneliness. I worry unnecessarily and boy do I have a hard time saying no. I don’t want to miss out on anything.
    How do I say no? I listen to my body. I just do not have the energy of a 47 year old! (Wait until you get 25 years older). I almost always say no to doing two big things a day. I try to take a nap. I try to let nothing interfere with my morning walk.
    Thank you Sage for bringing my attention to this issue!

    1. Here’s to your triumph over failure and loneliness through artwork, writing, friends, and service, Pattie. Thank you for giving us a window into your journey.

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