For a long long time I was a bit of a NO person.
When friends suggested things to do, or opportunities arose through work, my initial reaction was quite often all the reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t do something. My default was often to think about the worst case scenario or to convince myself that it would all end in tears, so probably best to stick to what I know.
So I said NO…or found an excuse to not partake.
Paint balling, horse riding, learning a new skill, a weekend away…. all sound great in principle but what if they don’t turn out how I expect? Plus, isn’t this all a bit self indulgent, shouldn’t I be working hard, thinking sensibly and saving for a rainy day?
I think this all came from a deep seeded belief that I didn’t deserve nice things, or that amazing experiences didn’t happen to people like me.
There were also further blockages about being able to afford to pay for such treats, I’d assume things were more expensive than they actually were, or worry that if I spent a large sum of money on something like a holiday, knowing my luck a week later a massive unexpected bill would come through the door.
As a side note I also had this ridiculous notion that when I lost weight (my weight fluctuated a lot during my twenties and thirties, but I was always considered big) these things would be more suitable, so I would focus on that first.
You could say in my early twenties I had a bit of a lack mentality.
I wanted a more exciting life filled with adventure and excitement, but I was too scared to actually change some of my beliefs and just make it happen.
This changed in the most bazar ways one evening one year in my late twenties.
I had organised a house party to celebrate my birthday, and around twenty or so of my friends came over to my place for drinks and food, including a girl called Natalie who I had spent a bit of time with back in my clubbing days, I didn’t know her very well at all, she was more of a drinking pal than a friend I spent any real time with.
In the early hours of the morning when we were all under the influence and talking rubbish, she told me she was going to visit her half brother in Colombia in a few weeks time, so me in my drunken state said,
I want to come
A few days later she called me and said
Were you serious about coming to Colombia with me? I’d love for you to come with me
And despite not knowing her or her brother very well at all, and having enormous fears about travelling to South America I responded
I don’t know what came over me.
A month later I jumped on a plane and I spent 3 amazing weeks in Cali having all kinds of adventures, and I also made a real friend for life….all through the power of YES.
That was a huge turning point for me, and I become much better at seeing opportunities for what they are, instead of filling my head with all the negative stories like “I can’t afford it”, “But what about work”, “I won’t know anybody there”
I booked a holiday alone to St Lucia one Christmas because I didn’t face spending it alone in the UK, I decided to start renting out my spare room, I set up a business as a consultant, I started going to night school to learn Spanish, I took myself off travelling around South East Asia despite having not lost the weight I thought I needed to.
I just decided I had held myself back for too long.
Now I have a resounding belief that opportunities come to me at the exact right time they need to, and that they have come about to teach me something about myself or the world that we live in that I really need to learn, so I am much more relaxed about international travel, meeting new people, having new experiences than I used to be.
Fear of the unknown holds so many of us back. Fear of judgement from others about the choices we make too can be a big problem, especially for women, especially for mothers who have to juggle being the caregiver to their child and fulfilling their own wants and needs.
I have just spent the most incredible 5 days in Israel on a press trip to review the Jerusalem Half Marathon. I had never been to the middle east, and I was to be the only journalist out of a group of 40 from the UK…plus the race itself has some massive hills on the course…all things which might put me off.
But do you know what? Life is too short to be turning down potentially life changing opportunities.
However, there is absolutely a place in my life too for big fats NO’s…I quite easily turn opportunities away which don’t feel right for me, a few months ago for example I turned down a trip to Switzerland to take part in a 3 day race across the mountains, this wasn’t a good fit…it was a busy time for me at work, my fitness wasn’t where I needed it to be…and I didn’t fancy being lifted off the mountain via helicopter due to a twisted ankle…it was too much of a risk in this case.
Be open to good stuff coming in to your life
Have faith that it is meant for you and will work out fine (better than fine)
Try not to stress about the hows, and focus instead on the whys
Practice saying YES to some small stuff to get you into practice, say YES to the colleague who invites you out for lunch. Say YES to the man who offers you his seat on the tube. Say YES to the distant friends who has a spare ticket for a gig tonight.
Who knows what it might lead to.
And who knows how it might help you prepare for even bigger and better things in the story that is your life