I am very much a creature of habit, primarily because as a working woman, wife, mom and other-things-in-chief, structure is needed to get everything done.  Sometimes this is good because you stay on track and accomplish those things on your to-do list. However, at other times it can be terribly limiting. Things that conflict with the schedule are disruptive.  I’ve often said no in order to keep the schedule going, which can be easier, but I’d miss out on something that could be cool or fun.  Or, or I’ve said yes and then had to deal with the fallout from not getting the things done by whatever deadline exists…and there’s usually a deadline.

In January 2016, thanks to a Ted Talk by Shonda Rhimes shared by a good friend, I challenged myself to say “yes” more often.  The first thing I did was to take a day trip to NYC – 4 ½ hours away – on a Sunday. I work a pretty traditional schedule Monday through Friday, to do this on a Sunday when I had to go to work the next day, was kind of a big deal for me.  Also, this wasn’t lunch and a play, but a trade show at the Javits Convention Center, which requires a different kind of strategy and patience.

Outdoors the air was crisp and the sun was bright.  It didn’t matter that there were remnants of snow from earlier that week.  I hadn’t attended one of these trade shows in some time, and had forgotten the rush you feel when there are a zillion options to review, imagine and select. The combination energized me.  “Stealing” a full day in NYC, and then returning to the office without preparations for the week that are usually done on Sunday, left me with a rush  – “Yep, I can still do this”.  Bring on the Monday a.m. staff meeting!

During the year I also found myself saying yes to other weeknight activities, which are typically a no-no. I attended a decorating seminar and spent more time with friends (okay, usually on a Thursday which is close enough to the weekend).  I also said yes to more concerts and entertainment, something that my husband and I used to do all the time in the early days of our relationship.  If the calendar was open, we said yes and found that not all date nights have to be planned super early.  They were so much fun.  Sure there were times when I really wanted to say no to something, but I’d consciously try to think of new people I’d meet or the fun that could be derived from doing something that wasn’t part of my planned routine.  If I felt good about that, I’d say yes.

Saying yes more often does not mean that you can’t say no if something truly doesn’t feel right.  If I was swinging from chandeliers just be able to say yes, but then had to deal with things being completely out of sorts, that would be ridiculous for me.  I’m okay with saying no when I need to, but I’m happy to be reminded that doing things off-schedule can be refreshing and make you more appreciative of people and things around you.

My friend has reminded me that the year of yes continues in 2017, and I’m excited about what it will bring.  Some activities will be intentional while others will be spontaneous.  I’m just looking forward to how it will all unfold.

If you’re thinking of changing up your routine, PureWow has a quick read on what might happen if you said yes to everything for a month.  Check it out and then let us know what you’ll be saying yes to in 2017!