Recently I hit a pretty big milestone. The forty. And I knew it was going to be something I felt…emotionally if not eventually physically. Now, I’m not one to bitch and whine about my age. Thankfully I look pretty young for my age (thanks genetics) and (knock on wood) I don’t have any major health issues I need to worry about yet. But I knew I needed to launch into 40, not just slip into it.
Enter: Year of Yes
Of course in the book and the movie, they said yes to everything. Well, I’m not an idiot so I put a few parameters to it.
In a nutshell, from 39 to 40, there were two rules:
- I would open myself up to new experiences by defaulting to YES, not NO. Regardless of my current situation.
- I would tell everyone about it so they would be involved and think to invite me if something came up or wanted to challenge me. Stipulations:
– I couldn’t cancel pre-arranged plans.
– Nothing illegal or dangerous-ish
I didn’t originate it, but I was inspired… so I declared a Year of Yes and for 365 days I preached it. I hashtagged it. I mentioned it in various conversations. I branded myself with it (a little something for you marketing types). Basically if you were in my bubble, you knew I was in this.
And now at 40 and beyond, I’ve discovered five pretty great things came from it:
- You’ll have New Experiences – It’s better to have experiences than things. Not my quote but a good one. Now I like to think I’m fairly adventurous when it comes to trying new things but you don’t know what you’re in for until friends and acquaintances put you to the test. I said yes to Eltville, Germany attending a buddy’s wedding in a castle on the Rhine. I said yes to in the culture of Erotica Electronica. I said yes to a few local movie lovers and started a podcast. All good things. And now great memories.
- You’ll be Surprised – And that’s true…what will happen, who you’ll meet or where you’ll end up when you start this. Sorry, I’m sure you are a fairly creative person with a laundry list of “to dos” but when you embrace the spontaneity of being arm candy at a construction association’s casino night or emceeing a golf tournament fundraiser for a 100 people, the hits will come fast and furious. And fun.
- You’ll be Better Connected to Friends and Family – Telling people that I was embarking on this exercise was really what made it a success. They saw it as a challenge. Will he come out tonight? Will he try this food? Will he take on this project? Yes, yes, yes. If I actually hadn’t told anyone, no one would have been around to say “yes” to. This experiment can’t be a solitary thing. It has to be social and engaging. Another big benefit was hanging out with people I knew only as acquaintances and became better friends. It’s amazing what can happen when you spend an hour with someone you’ve only ever shared a sentence with.
- You Might Inspire People – This has probably been one of the most unexpected and valuable things that has come from my Year of Yes: People telling me they tried something or went out on an adventure based on my experience. Um…wow. I was blown away when the first person said that to me. Then another. And another. I had a phenomenal year. This blew my mind and honoured the hell out of me.
- You’ll think differently – After 12 months of yes, I want more. I became less judging of things I knew nothing about. I realized how amazing my city is. My thirst for travel and other cultures grew. Those friendships I valued grew deeper. Why on earth would I want to stop?
Opening myself up to things and not just assuming I wouldn’t like it or that it wasn’t for me doesn’t get me taking a ride on the Autobahn. Saying yes did.
Exit: Year of Yes.
Enter: The Tao of Yes.