Saying “Yes” is also saying “No.”

Someone once told me, “When you say “yes” to something, you say “no” to something else.” So true. In an upcoming podcast episode of Cockpits & Cocktails, we discuss how important it is to learn to say no to commitments that may either drain your money or drain your time and to not feel guilty about it!

In order to have the time and money to work towards a goal, whether it be flying or something else, you have to protect your time and resources. This can be a difficult habit to get into, especially if there are responsibilities you’ve continually and repeatedly taken on in the past. There are many things we fill our brains with as items we “should” do but that we don’t necessarily gain any joy from or have a real calling for.

If you’re a parent, we take on all types of things in order to be present and involved in our children’s lives. Some individuals may volunteer for the wrong reasons, such as a way to gain recognition, which may feed a selfish desire to appear better than others, not necessarily to be present in their kid’s lives. I’m going to assume that’s not you. If it is, stop! How can one maintain this? You will have to bounce from one volunteer position to another in order to keep up that persona. How exhausting!

There are many people who thrive by helping others and that is their number one desire. That is what brings them joy. They do it not for selfish reasons. That is their dream. Kudos to those people. I’m very grateful such people exist. We probably each have something we love so much that giving our time and energy to it provides more energy back to us. That’s great and it’s easy to spend our time doing those things when we don’t have other interests or goals.

The problem or challenge comes in when we want to fit something else into our lives. A NEW goal or desire. Learning how to say no or cut out the things that we’ve been doing for an extended period of time is very hard. These things or people involved in these habits have become intertwined in our lives. We can’t imagine NOT continuing the cycle or pattern. However, something has to give when you want to do something new. Unfortunately, we can’t make more hours appear in the day so that we can add something. We have to eliminate. How do you choose what to weed out?

That is one of the challenges I faced when planning my flight training. I had a routine which involved certain people and activities. I didn’t hate any of these things. However, there had to be an elimination in order to make more time and energy for this new endeavor. You have to say no to somebody or something that you’ve been saying yes to for a long time, sometimes years.

That is a process that you should spend some time contemplating. I was methodical about it. Here are the questions I thought through that helped me find the things that could be eliminated in order for me to have more time, energy, money for flight training:

#1-How much TIME is this person/activity taking? Tennis was on my schedule several times a week. I enjoyed it tremendously, but it was a time-sucker. Coming to the realization that my goal with tennis was exercise and socializing, not competing at Wimbledon, allowed me to understand I could get a healthy amount of exercise in less than the three hours I spent several times a week going to/from the tennis club, playing matches, or running drills. This would open up some extra time for me and other activities. I enjoyed my teammates and could still see them, but less often would be sufficient, at least temporarily.

#2-How much JOY is this person/activity bringing me? There were things that didn’t bring me joy, I realized. I did them out of obligation or habit. Once those were defined, alternatives were implemented, or they were eliminated. This was a hard one for my family because most of them were household-related. I kept a pristine, magazine-picture home. Joanna Gaines and I would’ve been great friends. However, who actually saw my home on a daily basis? And, who really cared that much? Could I learn to let go and live with a messier home? It wasn’t that a messy home was an awful way to live, it was the feeling of control having a clean home gave me. Once I realized that the control I most desired was over more personal triumphs, the control over the organization of the home became less of a priority. I could not have both because of the time constraints of maintaining each, so which was more important right now?

#3-How much MONEY is this activity costing me? Shopping was a huge entertaining activity for me that I realized only provided short-term joy. If I had back all of the money I’ve spent on clothes, shoes, purses, there would be a lot more airports and airplanes in my log book! Those memories would stick with me much longer than the memory of shopping at the mall for Pete’s sake! I shopped because it gave me momentary pleasure. I wanted lifetime pleasure.

#4-Is it more important for me to do something to please someone else, or please myself? There is a lot of happiness that comes from helping others and being there for others. Being selfish all the time is not a good thing. However, when I was a child, I was in therapy during my parent’s divorce. There was a lot of pressure I put on myself to make my mom happy during that time. That therapist gave me one of the best tidbits of information of my entire life: I can’t make someone happy. They have to find that themselves. If I was doing things to make other people happy, and I didn’t enjoy it, that’s not helping anyone. I’m a big believer that I’m more good to others if I’m happy with myself. I’ve spent a lot of time not being happy with myself because there was a feeling of not achieving some of the goals I had. Year after year, some of the goals I’d had loomed over me and there was an undeniable discontentment and disappointment with myself.

These questions helped me prioritize and figure out what things I could let go in order to start flying and becoming the person I wanted to be. When I started my training, I assumed things would go back to “normal” when I attained all of the ratings I wanted. Some things did. Some things did not. I learned through this whole process what needed to be in my life and what didn’t.

Beginning a journey towards a dream will do more for you than you can imagine. At first, it’s a goal. It will allow you to learn some new things. It will change the way you view what’s important to you. This process helps you identify and eliminate the things you don’t need. It teaches you about yourself and opens your eyes to all the important yeses and nos.