I recently realized how fast time is going. It happened at the end of this past summer. All of a sudden I had all my kids in school. And I was left for seven hours – does that seem too long to any one else – with an empty house. A quiet empty house. Yeah, but one day, I might get used to it.
I started thinking about everything I had wanted to do in their preschool years – all of the crafts, trips and cuddle sessions. Although we did the most important things, much of what I had pinned on my Pinterest boards remained untouched. Many would say that’s okay.
But, then I started a list of everything that I want to do in their elementary years. At the rate I’m going, they’ll be in college by the time we try everything on the list.
Although I love to plan, the process actually makes me giddy, I find many of my plans and lists fail to come to fruition. Why is that? Between managing the shop and kid activities, my life should be a full and happy one.
Then, after reading the recent newsletter from Melissa at Blog Clarity, I realized that I am suffering from the “Yeah, but” disease. She discussed how many people use excuses to prevent themselves from getting things done and accomplishing their goals. I can come up with lots to do, but actually finding the tools and getting things done tends to never happen. I am full of excuses – usually sleep related. “Yeah, but”…
For example I am currently working on my new Shopify website. I did fine with loading the theme, customizing colors and getting our logo at the top. Then I stopped. I couldn’t figure out how to customize the product categories to fit our shop’s needs (adding a Notes section and price variations).
I need to get this Shopify shop set up before the holidays. Yeah, but I can’t get the categories to look right.
Or with our family goals, we want to make photo albums of all of our adventures so we have a family archive.
We need to make photo albums so the kids have a memory collection. Yeah, but we never have the time.
It isn’t about time really. As Ken Poirot says, “Time is but an illusion.” In this case, it’s more about deciding on the materials needed and finding the right moment to start. Time is just an excuse.
I broke into a reference letter once from a college professor. He was one of my most beloved professors. He truly believed in all my crazy career ideas. This wonderful professor had written a bunch of letters to for my internship applications. I had one left and found it when I was cleaning my stuff out many years later. I didn’t need it any more, so I decided to read it.
Although it was wonderfully full of praise as any recommendation letter should be, it did mark one big weakness. The inability to complete tasks. I tended to take on multiple projects and wouldn’t always see them to the finish line.
This criticism of my behavior has stuck with me for almost 20 years. He was absolutely right. I love starting tasks – businesses, books, craft projects – but many times my interest wanes in the middle and “Yeah, but” starts to creep in. My excuses are incredible and most of the time not actually real.
So how do I get those two words to not get in the way of my business success? Here are some strategies that I have tried over the last couple of years – some with more success than others.
Acknowledge that “Yeah, but” is an excuse
The first step to understanding that you have a productivity issue is admitting that you have a problem in the first place. Just like any other excuse that you might use to avoid doing tasks, “Yeah, but” is an excuse too. It gives you a reason to not move forward and not work towards your goals. These two small words justify your actions.
The best way to fight this excuse is to admit it is there. Acknowledge that you are using “Yeah, but” as a crutch to not move forward.
Figure out the big picture
Although I don’t recommend completing tasks with only the big picture in mind, sometimes thinking about where you want to go in the end will help you get the smaller task done. It helps to know how this smaller task fits into the larger view.
Create a vision board or a thought bubble to see where your end goals are. It will help you avoid “Yeah, but” statements if you know where you are going.
Post a reminder
When our brains are programmed in the “Yeah, but” mindset, it’s hard to transform them into a positive and productive mindset. Sometimes a reminder helps. Write it on your work chalkboard, add post-it notes around your computer or even frame our free printable So I will sign near your desk. Anything that will let you glance up and think about a So I will statement as you are working. It can take up to 21 days to develop a new habit, so the more you visualize making positive statements, the more likely you will start to live them.
Construct positive “So I will” statements
Write down everything that you are thinking that starts with “yeah, but” in one color pen. Leave space underneath each statement. Now, flip around those negative statements into positive ones. Underneath each “yeah, but” statement, write a positive version using the words “So, I will”.
We need to make photo albums so the kids have a memory collection. Yeah, but we never have the time.
Instead the statement would be So I will find a time to get photos downloaded and find a photo book maker I like.
I find the problem with “So I will” statements is that they are so energy heavy for us moms. The idea of finding any time in my day to download photos makes me cringe.
The thing is that excuses require no energy at all. But if we continue to live our life feeding on excuses, our wants will remain desires forever. Once we decide we want to do something about them, suddenly we will become filled with productivity.
For me, when I look at that “So I will” statement, my anxiety kicks in. Oh my, I have to find time to download photos, sort through them and upload them onto a photo book site. Then comes organizing them into an album and getting the book printed. All because we decided to go on a trip?
But even though that might seem overwhelming, if I took the time away from when I wasn’t being overly productive – such as scrolling through social media – I actually could have started sorting the photos by now.
We’ve had this exact problem in our house since the kids were little. I recently decided that we are going to start making photo albums. It was going to be part of our adventure close out. Just like you would unpack a suitcase, you would find time to sort and download the photos.
After our recent summer holiday, I did just that. Due to becoming sidetracked, it took four weeks to find enough snippets of time to finish. So, I finally finished sorting and downloading last week. It felt good. If I want to be a family that archives their adventures, I am the one who needs to do it.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes me to actually make the album now that the photos are pretty ready. I guess that will also have to be transformed into an “So, I will” statement.
If you are having difficulty writing these positive “So, I will” statements, practice will help. I have put together a free printable statement sheet with examples and room to try writing your own. This exercise might help transform your mindset to one of accomplishing things instead of making excuses.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Thinking positively is hard stuff. No matter that it can change your life and make you more productive. But, most things in life that are hard are worth trying. (I disagree with this statement when it comes to skydiving).
If you find it difficult to complete So I will statements, don’t be too hard on yourself. Many people find this a challenge. Start small. Maybe write one “So, I will” statement for the month and work on steps to completing your goal. It can be a simple goal and have nothing to do with business. Family goals are just as important as business goals (if not more sometimes).
And when you do accomplish that first (or umpteenth) “So I will” statement, celebrate. Even a secret ice cream sundae after the kids are asleep counts. Make yourself feel loved. That was not an easy task.
Find pockets of time
Since making “Yeah, but” statements is easier than “So I will” ones, busy moms tend to lean towards them more. I do it all the time – especially when I need more relaxing time on the weekends. Once I have my “So I will” statements written down and I know what tasks need to be accomplished for each, I can tackle them more in my extra pockets of time.
These are times when the kids all play nicely for a few minutes or I am waiting for the laundry to finish. They are the times when we are outside playing or watching the kids in a class. They happen to everyone. And these are the perfect opportunity to get a few to dos done.
Crossing off a to do list item here and there adds up. I read a wonderful writing book by Stephen King once called On Writing. For me, Stephen King novels are way too scary. I’d never sleep. His autobiography about becoming Stephen King, on the other hand, was fantastic.
He discusses the idea of reading in sips to find more time to read in your every day. Although I read this book before children, this concept has gotten me through the infant and toddler years. Whenever there is a down moment in the day, I pick up a book and read a couple of pages. Not the hours I used to get to read before kids, but I have found these sips have gotten me through many novels and non-fiction selections over the years.
Those sips add up. Instead of reading, spend some of your “sips” time working on your “So I will” statements. You’ll be surprised at how many things you can get done.
I finally downloaded the photos from our trip because I used a “sips” moment while the kids worked on an art project. It made me feel like I accomplished something and the kids got to be creative too.
Success brings energy
Completing your first “So I will” statement is going to feel daunting. Perhaps even impossible. It isn’t easy. But here’s the good news. Once you accomplish your first statement, the next one will come more easily. And the next and the next until suddenly your life is full of completed “So I will” statements.
This is because success brings you more energy. You feel inspired to accomplish things and energetic about the next step.
In my case, after I completed the photo download, I went on to painting a chalkboard wall in the kids space. I had also put this off for months, but felt more energetic and determined to get it done. The extra energy also helped me get my fall decorating done. If only my life could be full of this many “So I will” statements, think how accomplished I would be.
Tackling a financial hurdle
Many times my issue isn’t writing the “So I will” statement, but trying to find the funds to get myself there. We’ve found this a lot during our house renovation. I have tons of project ideas that I would like to do, but finding the money to accomplish them is tricky. So the statement turns back into a “Yeah, but when I find – insert dollar amount.”
Money certainly makes the world go round and can hold you back from accomplishing many of your goals. It can be frustrating. If you find the reason you are not able to turn a “Yeah, but” statement around is because of the money, consider a budget statement for your “So I will” instead.
Calculate how much a task will cost you. Knowing exact dollar amounts will really help you accomplish your goals. Then, your “So I will” statement should start – “So I will save – insert money amount.”
Come up with a plan on how you will save that amount of money – cutting expenses, a second job/extra hours, saving more or another lifestyle change. Consider setting up a “So I will” savings account to help separate the funds. Then when you have the amount you need, you’ll be able to change around that “Yeah, but” statement into the positive.