By Sunny Simon
I hung up the phone, breathed a sigh of relief and took stock of my emotions. The call I just completed carried me right out of my comfort zone. The action I took was uncharacteristic and yet I felt no remorse, or more importantly, no guilt.
Like many individuals, women in particular, I fall into the tribe of people pleasers. Recently a committee placed me in a volunteer position without my consent. My downfall was, after much deliberation (which should have been a red flag, as a coach I’m trained to know better) I said yes. So what’s the problem? I guess you can call it integrity, once I give my word, it’s golden. I never go back on it. Indeed an honorable characteristic, but there have been several instances when sticking to my guns caused significant stress, as was the case with this volunteer position.
What do you do when you’ve made the wrong decision and your self-imposed moral code stands firm against turning back? My answer was to first phone a friend. I called upon someone with excellent judgment who reviewed the situation objectively, with no agenda. After presenting the facts, my friend provided wise and rational feedback. She advised me to have someone else to take over. Hmmm…my brain translated quit. Ouch, that meant going against my golden rule. I thanked her and decided to sleep on it.
One of the lessons I’ve learned over the years is not to act irrationally. Postpone a decision if possible. Research suggests getting a good night’s sleep is beneficial for multiple reasons. During rest, the brain is cleared of toxins then actively seeks other situations which might be helpful in resolving the problem. This rang true for me.
The next morning I reviewed a past situation when I stubbornly refused to reverse a “Yes, I’ll do it,” even though I had ample time to do so. As I recalled sucking it up and honoring that commitment for an entire miserable year, I made my decision. Taking the high moral ground is indeed an admirable trait, but in reality this wasn’t a level playing field. I did not volunteer, I was railroaded into this position.
Sometimes no is the right answer. If you’ve made the wrong decision and it will harm no one to reverse it, do so. Living with yes, and secretly resenting it, is unproductive and unhealthy. There is always a lesson to be learned. Mine was realizing I should have ignored the peer pressure and gracefully said no when asked. Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at www.raisethebarhigh.com