THE BLOG

Your Year of Yes

06/01/2015 06:49 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2016
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You ever hear of this? People's "Year of Yes;" that year of their lives when they are going to change their point of view by oh, you know making a plan to say yes to: falling in love, losing weight, learning Chinese, hiking the Appalachian Trail, becoming a cat-wrangler, sailing the seven seas, getting their kicks on Route 66, planting an herb garden, churning their own butter, learning how to paint in oils, starting a small business, becoming a notary, getting into law school, fixing their relationship with their parents, becoming a Luddite, starting a sewing circle, getting the corner office, writing a YA novel about werewolves in love, moving to Seattle, playing the harp, whatever. Perhaps you've had your own Year of Yes? When done correctly, it can truly be life-changing.

Because, let's be honest; what the Year of Yes really entails is giving ourselves permission to understand ourselves and our desires. Understanding and validating our desires in order to respect them, believe in them and thus ACT on them. It's about giving ourselves permission (and courage) to take our desires -- and by extension, ourselves -- seriously. We have to take our goals, big or small, seriously in order to commit to the hard and frequently frightening work necessary to bring our dreams to life. We have to take our desire to learn Chinese seriously in order to do the hard work of finding a class and buying the books and moving outside of our (un)comfort zones long enough to give the language a chance to gel in our brains. Changing our lives is a process. It will, eventually, become fun, but at the beginning, it can be pretty miserable. Thus, in a deeper sense, your Year of Yes is about giving yourself permission to know and fight for yourself.

But that assumes that your Year of Yes is a year of being smart about what you say Yes to... right? For example, there's a big difference in crafting a Year of Yes wherein you finally learn French, bike through the French countryside, start a blog about your adventures and eventually turn that blog into a novel or an indie movie. There's a difference between that kind of passionate Year of Yes and deciding, blithely, that you're going to get a better job in your Year of Yes, and so you send out three half-assed job applications, get rejected and/or ignored ( and understandably heartbroken and frustrated), you shave your head or get a tattoo on your neck (which could be kind of cool, I guess, if you weren't 48 and working in a super conservative industry). I understand that you hate your job, but you could have spent that money and energy on creating a strategy to get out that industry into a job where when you show up with a sleeve tat, the boss will say, "Wow, cool," and invite you out to lunch. Then, you two go out to lunch, and bond over margaritas and you get the courage to tell her your ideas to build the company's business, she loves your creative brain and decides to give you a shot and swish!

Because otherwise, it sounds more like you just made your supervisor's Year of Yes, since yes, your sketchy choices just helped her to help accelerate your journey out the door. Buh-bye. Now, it is true that for some of us, getting fired was a hoop we had to jump through in order to have the bare-knuckled impetus to change our lives. That's fine... as long as you're honest with yourself. Are you seriously surprised your actions had real-life consequences... or did you create a scenario that you not-so-secretly knew/hoped would end in you being fired? Your Year of Yes cannot successfully function without honesty.

I'm just suggesting that you, Dear Reader, you must determine that your Year of Yes is going to be about saying yes, I'm going to commit to my potential, to my dreams, to all that is best within me. Yes, I'm going to commit to doing smart, challenging things that further and accelerate my life, no matter how minutely frustrating and/or frightening they are. There's a Year of Yes that allows you to get your mind right, gird your loins and say, through gritted teeth, hell yes to the hard work and the slow, systematic changes that bring you dramatically closer to the life you wish to be leading. What a triumphant Year of Yes that would be!

There's a Year of Yes that allows you to truly change your life beyond skin-deep remedies -- and let's not kid ourselves, your Year will be damn hard work -- and there's, unfortunately, a Year of Yes that allows you to self-indulgently focus on saying yes to all your worst self-destructive impulses and suddenly, it's another Year of Yes to all that you hate and fear and dread within you. Suddenly, it's the end of the year, and you're wondering why your Year of Yes turned out to be such a resounding No.