What If You Just Said YES?

Find yourself saying "no" to potentially wonderful opportunities due to fear or other holdups? Maybe 42 Days of Yes is just what you need.
Christi Hegstad June 8th, 2014

A few years ago, after a period of feeling overcommitted and overwhelmed, I strengthened my ability to say No. It’s an important, necessary skill in life that allows us to set healthy boundaries and honor our priorities. When you say No to something, you can say Yes to something else.

Learning to say No is good. Unless No becomes your default. Think about your own experience for a moment:
* Have you ever said No to an amazing opportunity, perhaps due to self-doubt, then later wished you had just said Yes?
* Do you decline impromptu or “just for fun” activities because you feel too time-crunched as it is?
* Have you had moments lately – at work, in leadership, in life – that leave you questioning your abilities or feeling more fearful than you’d like?

The Importance of Yes
As a leader, you must be able to say No, of course – but you also must be open to the Yes. And oftentimes, you need to be able to do this at a moment’s notice: embracing opportunities as they arise, being open to change, and making decisions quickly. You need to be the leader in your own life if you intend to effectively model leadership and develop it in others.
I recently wrote a piece about overthinking, on which I’ve received a great deal of feedback (click here to read the article). As one reader said, “I’ve found that the best things in work and life happen when I trust my gut and say YES. I’m learning to do that more in my leadership role, but I seem to have forgotten how to say Yes to those little things that light me up for no apparent reason. I’ve developed the habit of saying ‘No’ or ‘Later’ – only ‘later’ never comes.”
Can you relate? I sure can.
So what are we going to do about it?
42 Days Of Yes!
Beginning on Wednesday, I am embarking on a project to stretch out of my comfort zone and to remind me to say YES more and I’d love for you to join me.  Every day for 42 days, I will say YES to something new, bold, out of my comfort zone, or that simply lights me up for any reason – or for no reason whatsoever. I intend to do this without overthinking and without expectation.
Do YOU want to say Yes to life more? Do you need to stretch out of your comfort zone? Are you ready to challenge your perfectionist or overthinking tendencies and embrace opportunities as they appear? Here’s how to start:
1. Jot down a few ideas – things you’ve long wanted to try or have said NO to in the past, for example. Small and simple, bold and brassy, whatever comes to mind. You’re not committing to these – just expanding your mindset before we begin.
2. Keep track. In a journal or document, make note of your YES experience each day. You’ll begin to develop a new habit and will soon have a track record of healthy, positive experiences which you’ve embraced! (Hint: You can use this to record any learnings or discoveries along the way, too.) You’re welcome to use this downloadable sheet if you wish!
3. Inspire others! Beginning June 11, I’ll post on Facebook and Twitter near-daily, so feel free to add your YES experiences to the conversation. Forward the link to this blog to friends and colleagues and chat weekly about your YES actions. Post your wins on your own Facebook or Twitter accounts (feel free to use hashtag #42DaysOfYes so we can hear about them!). I will also briefly update this blog a couple of times each week, maybe even with photos or video, and you’re welcome to share your experiences here as well.
The main point: let your growth inspire others!
Remember, 42 Days Of Yes is not about saying Yes to anything and everything (much to my kids’ disappointment! ;-)) and your actions don’t have to be huge or earth-shattering. Your Yes does not need to be in response to someone else’s request, either; maybe you say Yes to immersing yourself in a book for an entire day or dancing in your office for 5 minutes in the morning or taking your team out for a surprise lunch. 
42 Days Of Yes is about being purposeful and playful, fully embracing each day and its healthy opportunities for joy, taking a chance on what lights you up, and living and working in the present moment. It’s about being the leader in your own life and modeling that for others.  And truth be told there is a deeper purpose behind this project, which I’ll share at Spark in October.

So…are you in? Come on, say YES! :-) 


“Saying YES begins things. Saying YES is how things grow. Saying YES leads to knowledge. So for as long as you have the strength to, say YES.”~ Stephen Colbert  

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