Saying No, So Your Dream Can Thrive

I did not come up with that tag line.  Our God-sized dream coach Holley Gerth did.  I love the question she asked our team for today: What do you need to say “no” or “not now” or “not so much” to so your dream can thrive? Sometimes even what’s good can crowd out what’s best.

Did anyone else’s heart just sink when they read that? Friends, I am the Captain of Yes.  Head cheerleader for the YES team!  “I’m just a girl who can’t say no…..”  (Please tell me someone still knows Rogers & Hammerstein so that comment didn’t come off a little immoral.)

The year I was planning my wedding, I was also embroiled in a huge case at work and I was on the board of six organizations.  That’s right, SIX!  One I chaired.  For a while, I really loved being asked.  So I would say yes because it was an honor.  Then I loved being asked because I knew I could eventually lead the organization.  And I actually really like leading organizations (if you haven’t picked this up, I can be a little scheduled/OCD/control-freakish).  But I remember finding out I was pregnant with triplets and looking at my schedule and getting stressed out quickly.  I met with a business coach and he asked me to tell him which organizations I was really passionate about.  You know, I had stopped picking organizations I was passionate about.  I had just said yes when I was asked.  And at the time there was not one organization I could say I was passionate about.

That’s the thing about dreams, they can hurdle off the rails pretty quickly if you don’t get your “yes” in check.  If you do not write down a specific goal or set of priorities and ask yourself before every “yes” if it’s bringing you closer to that goal, then watch out sister.  Your dream could tumble down before it ever really gets built.

I play legos with my kids sometimes.  Have you ever noticed that you can only build a lego tower so tall before it falls over?  Well my life tower was falling over when I found out I was pregnant because I had stacked too many things on top of each other.  So I dropped out of everything.  That’s right.  During my pregnancy and the year that followed, I stopped doing everything.  All my boards, my community work, firm recruitment, church leadership, even working out.  I just worked on having a healthy pregnancy and getting used to motherhood.  That was the only dream that fit in my universe for about 18 months.  Then I slowly started incorporating things back into my routine.  I joined a boot camp.  I volunteered to run a charity lunch.  I gave some speeches.  But nothing piled up, and I didn’t say yes to anything other than things I would get a 3-for-1 return on as a result.

Now I have some specific dreams in mind for the next few years.  Professional and personal.  I’m going to have to say “no” to a lot.  And I’ve already started doing that.  My priorities are, in order: grow in my relationship with God, my husband, and be a good mom; do great work at my new job; and grow this blog and any published work I have.   Make a list.  Stick it somewhere you can see.  And remember Holley’s wise word, “Sometimes even what’s good can crowd out what’s best.”  Come on type A career mom friends, let’s just stick with what’s really important, so we, and our dream, can thrive.



  1. “write down a specific goal or set of priorities and ask yourself before every “yes” if it’s bringing you closer to that goal.”
    I needed that. Even though I knew that all along, I pushed it to the back of my mind :(
    Especially for the timely reminder that “Your dream could tumble down before it ever really gets built.” if I’m trying to be a superwoman ~

    Although I’m not an A career mum (^^) I tend to keep saying ‘Yes!’ to the point that I’d avoid people just so they wouldn’t ask me a to commit to something because I felt ‘bad’ saying ‘no’ >.<
    I gotta learn! :)


  2. Hi Gindi,

    So this is where I’m struggling. Because, I don’t know what my dream is; there are two that conflict: 1) making a difference professionally, and maybe someday starting a foundation for girls through sport (not sure what that means), and 2) having another child (maybe adoption). Both are silly and in no way is there evidence of possibilities for either. My groom isn’t keen on baby #2, and I have a secure, cushy, comfy director job (and only recently a possibility for a new job). Is career advancement something I should say “no more” to, to be more available and less stressed for my family? I am so torn and asking Him for direction. Much to think about here.

    • So first let me say that neither are silly! They may seem far off but they don’t have to be mutually exclusive or unattainable. Now you do have to have a spouse that’s on board – that’s Kay both practically and spiritually.

  3. Saying no so we can say yes – I love your lego analogy! I find my biggest problem is having writer’s ADD. I flit from one thing to the next. I guess I need to start being a bit more structured. Thanks for the reminder! :)

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