year of yes

Five Ways a Year of Yes Makes Your Life Better

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 complain 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

Yes there’s a pretty bad Jim Carrey movie but the idea is based on an interesting, if not better, book. It’s not too complicated either. Say yes to things.

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:

  1. I would open myself up to new experiences by defaulting to YES, not NO. Regardless of my current situation.
  2. 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 on this journey.

And now at 40 and beyond, I’ve discovered five pretty great things came from it:

  1. 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.
  2. You’ll be Surprised – And that’s true… in 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Now it’s more important to look at this as a way of living. A philosophy.

Enter: The Tao of Yes.

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