My Year of NO

Saying YES to everything and how it is no longer serving me.

Shonda Rhimes caught my attention for a second time when I stumbled across her best-selling novel, Year of Yes. It was about 3 years ago now (I think) and I was working at a job that drained me, my confidence and my creativity. While simultaneously in a relationship that was anything but positive. Desperate for a change I was guzzling down self-help books faster than the iv-line could feed me while simultaneously making cry vlogs in the car on the way to work; where I uncharacteristically accepted the position of perpetually late. My life was quite simply a mess and Shonda’s book; a novel about beyond successful women hitting a lull in her life hit a chord with me.

“I began to blame my relentless ambition, my tight wallet and above all my timid approach to almost all things for current my circumstance.”

By no means was I disillusioned enough to think I achieved anything that matched the magnitude of Rhymes. But still, it resonated because up until that point all my goals and aspirations had been checked off in a somewhat orderly fashion. Or possibly it was because in doing so I let opportunities outside those goals pass me by. Either way, as I reflected I began to blame my relentless ambition, my tight wallet and above all my timid approach to almost all things for current my circumstance and what could have been.

As I soaked in Shonda’s words I was passive, shy and utterly afraid of any form of attention or acknowledgment, but I knew at my core I was strong, driven, creative and ambitious. The latter of which had been buried further by the current state of my life. Therefore, after years of sidelining all forms of personal indulgence, sacrificing for both my job, my wallet and overall practicality I read Shonda’s story and felt not only a connection but hope. Believing I had deprived myself of fun and potential opportunities for too long I clung to the idea of saying yes to everything.

“Ultimately the past few years of my life have been a blur far brighter and far more colorful than any picture I could have ever painted in my dreams.”

In doing so I quit my “dream job”, walked away from a man that could never commit, worked a couple random jobs that always intrigued me, started to travel the world, said yes to dating, stumbled into a career I love, worked on projects I could of never imagined, designed and constructed two wedding dresses, moved into an apartment I adore, fell in and out of love and back again, met too many new people to comprehend and ultimately the past few years of my life have been a blur far brighter and far more colorful than any picture I could have ever painted in my dreams. Well that may rank as one of the longest sentences on the planet but I must admit that’s typical for me and if I’ve learned anything over the past few years of growth and change it’s that I wouldn’t change who I am or what I’ve been thru for anything.

Sure I want to grow and become the best version of myself humanly possible and of course, my life would be a whole lot easier if you subtracted the anxiety, timid nature and inability to speak at times. However, I’ve come to realize the people who truly know me, take me for who I am and love me, flaws and all. Therefore, regret and shame hold little barring over me (most of the time) now, thank goodness!

Now on to the point of this crazy long train of thought;

Initially, my mindset behind starting “year of no” was… I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I have wanted to because I’ve been saying yes to everyone but me. And therefore my thought was that I was wrong to think my position in life had any alignment with Shonda’s. This may be true in that I’ve spent so much time nurturing my relationships with friends and family and saying yes to opportunities as they have arrived that my long term goals and personal projects have definitely taken a backseat.

“As it stands to say yes is no longer serving me.”

Moreover, at the start of writing this, I was disappointed in myself, I felt overwhelmed and at a loss but as I’ve taken time to reflect I realize I was right to take that time and grow as I did for my life is now so happy and full and the experiences I’ve had have changed me in exciting ways. Sitting here I see more clearly than ever how big of an impact Shonda’s book had on me and I feel both grateful and proud of how far I have come. However, stagnant I refuse to be and as it stands to say yes is no longer serving me.

Therefore, this year I aim to say NO to everything. As I walk into a new year with big goals I believe it is time for me to put myself first. To stop making myself happy by simply bringing joy to others and helping them achieve their goals and fulfilling their wishes but instead to finally bring my own ideas to life. It is my hope in doing so that my time will be my own and I will no longer have the option to put someone else ahead of my personal aspirations. This year will hopefully be one of the most productive, fulfilling years of my life thus far and I couldn’t be more excited to start saying no. In fact, I’ve already begun.

Strategy; Say no to the following things:

1. Traveling/Holidays

2. Expensive Experiences

3. Other People’s Projects

4. Custom Design Work

Because there’s always exceptions to everything, Three questions to consider before saying yes.

Must be able to answer YES to at least three of the four below questions…

1. Do I have enough extra money in the weekly budget/rainy day savings to cover this expense? 

2. Is this a ONCE in a lifetime opportunity?

3. Will it enrich my life and or career in some way?

4. Are my own projects on track to be completed on time?


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