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mindbodygreen Podcast Guest Jen Hatmaker
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April 22, 2020
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More often than not, the most passionate people are the ones most susceptible to burnout. It makes total sense—when you're passionate about achieving your goals (career-focused or otherwise), you might feel pressure to say yes to every opportunity that floats your way. 

But according to New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and TV personality Jen Hatmaker, saying yes to every opportunity may do more harm than good in the long run. "It can come out as passive aggression," she tells me on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast. "But if we can't be honest about what we need, how can we expect another person to read our minds?" 

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The key, according to Hatmaker, is to be truly, genuinely, brutally honest with yourself—starting with what you actually want to say yes to. Here's why Hatmaker says everyone should be picky with their yeses in life; if you're not passionate about the end result, you might be better off saying no from the get-go.  

Why we need to start choosing our yeses. 

While a lesson on setting healthy boundaries can benefit everyone (burnout spares no gender), Hatmaker says that women are particularly vulnerable to an overbearing amount of yeses.

It's not women's fault; rather, Hatmaker says women are conditioned in society to adhere to certain gender roles (both spoken and unspoken codes of conduct). Because of this, "women lie a lot about what they actually want and don't want to do," Hatmaker says, because our society conditions women at an early age to be likable, agreeable, with little to no room for dissent. One way to remain likable, as it turns out, is to say yes—to every opportunity under the sun. 

"Women are conditioned to say yes and take on burdens way beyond our capacity," Hatmaker continues, which can lead to increased stress, exhaustion, and mental burnout. Not to mention anger and resentment toward the folks who asked them to take on those burdens in the first place. 

But here's the thing, Hatmaker says that resentment is actually misguided: "We don't have the right to be angry at someone who asked us to do something we don't have the capacity for, if we said yes." Meaning, instead of hoping people stop asking too much, we have to learn to say no to certain opportunities. 

"It's on us to ask, 'What's my highest point of contribution on this earth?'" Hatmaker explains. From there, you can decide what you really want to do rather than trying to make everybody around you happy. 

Only then can you learn how to truly listen to your inner voice in other aspects of your life, from what you believe, to what you need, to the age-old question: "Who the hell am I?"

How to choose your yeses: A simple exercise.

It sounds simple: Just say yes to what you truly want to do, respectfully declining other opportunities that don't spark joy. But figuring out exactly what opportunities to accept is rather difficult—how do you decide what projects you're passionate about? 

Luckily, Hatmaker offers an easy scoring system to help you sift through those said opportunities. It's an idea inspired by Greg McKeown's Essentialism, as she tells me, "if the answer is not a clear yes, it should be a clear no." 

Here's how it works: Whenever you're presented with an opportunity, ask yourself, "What are my goals? What is my endgame?" With these goals in mind, give the opportunity a score from zero to 100. If the opportunity scores 90 to 100, consider it a yes. But if it scores an 89 to zero, it's a no. No question. 

You might think 90 to 100 is a small window of yes opportunities, but that's exactly the point. "It takes out the 'I guesses' and the 'I shoulds,'" Hatmaker says. "It takes out the indecision of having a plate full of 70s or 65s." 

Rather than spending your time and energy on a multitude of projects with an offhand attitude, you'll have fewer, more passionate projects to put your whole heart into. That passion will ultimately make those projects better, anyway. And that bucket of 89s and below? Let someone else take care of it. "Your 63 is someone else's 94, so let them have it," says Hatmaker. In other words, don't feel bad about turning down certain opportunities in fear of disappointing people. Chances are, someone else might do a way better job. 

With choosing your yeses, you're one step closer to being true to yourself and finding your inner voice. It's a process that takes practice and hard work, but the end result is entirely worth it. "There may be some loss or cost in the process, but it's worth it to get to the other side and be genuine with yourself," says Hatmaker. Who knew something as simple as the word yes could carry so much weight?

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