Recently, I returned from a trip to what my friends and I affectionately call “the motherland,” where I spent some time with my mom, some beach time with friends, met a new friend, ran into an old friend, and spent a day thrifting with some of Mom’s friends. It was a week of friends.
On the way to my mother’s home on the Fourth of July, I messaged an old and dear friend of mine to see if I could meet up with him for a few minutes on my way through his town. He responded that he was with his parents at their home and asked if I wanted to make a quick detour to come by and say hi to everyone. My initial response, as is typical when something new or unexpected pops up, was slight panic. I don’t want to show up and bother them while they are celebrating as a family! What if his family does not want to see me? It has been twenty years!
Given my schedule and knowing Mom was waiting for me, I did not have much time to decide; and, in this case, maybe that was for the best. Had I thought about it too long, I might have talked myself out of it. Fear of being in the way or being awkward might have led me to create a lame excuse. Thankfully, I decided to say Yes! I put the address in my GPS (thank the Lord for it or I would still be driving around some long country roads), texted Mom and Eric my slight change in plans, and headed to my friend’s childhood home.
Moments after pulling into the driveway, his mother met me outside and greeted me with a smile and a warm hug. Inside, I was able to catch up with his family and share some laughs and stories. Given the time and that Mom was waiting for me, I only stayed about thirty minutes, but I am so glad I fought the nerves and excuses and chose to say Yes to his invitation.
Many say it is not the failures in life we regret, but instead the chances we did not take. As I approach my perceived mid-way point in life, I can say this has proven true in my experience. Even though I have endured some embarrassing or painful moments, I do not lie in bed at night and think, “I wish I never tried….” Instead, I am more likely to think of the adventures I refused or the dreams I never pursued. So what if I danced at a wedding and made a fool of myself? Who cares if I bombed at karaoke? Everyone does! Maybe the poetry would not have been published, but how could I know without taking the plunge?
A good rule of thumb for any decision is to ask yourself, “Which decision will I wish I had made ten years from now?” Long after anyone else is talking about it, what will you want to remember? The night you tried or the night you hid?
At my wedding reception, I planned to sing a song to my dad, but as the time approached, I started questioning my decision. Maybe I should skip it. People are talking. I would have to interrupt everyone. (Yes, I was worried about bothering people at my own wedding!) Thankfully, my godmother broke the ice by singing Happy Birthday to my dad (it was his 50th birthday) which opened the door for me to move forward with my initial plan to sing Always Be Your Baby by Natalie Grant.
To this day, it is one of my most treasured memories. Had I let that moment pass by, I would likely still be regretting it, especially now that my daddy is with the Lord.
Reasons to Say Yes!
- Regret is a bear! Will you succeed? Will you embarrass yourself? Maybe. There are no guarantees when we put ourselves out there. But if we never put ourselves out there, we will regret and never succeed.
- You never know what life will bring and if you will have the same opportunity in the future. I will try it next time. There may not be a next time. We only have today. If you can say yes today, and it is a positive step for your life, then try to say yes.
- Saying yes can lead to growth. As Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Visually, imagine saying yes as opening a door and saying no as closing a door. If all you do is close doors, you will isolate yourself until you have no where to go. But, if you open doors, you will expand your horizons, meet new people, experience new victories (and defeats), and become a happier, more well-rounded person. Saying yes can lead to more yeses, which means more and greater opportunities.
- With every No we are saying Yes to something else. Are we saying yes to boredom? Comfort? Stagnation? Loneliness? Before saying no to a new opportunity, ask yourself what you are saying yes to and if you are happy with that decision.
- Yes is fun!!! How many times have you allowed yourself to experience something only to think, “Wow, I could’ve missed that?!” Currently, I have a bucket list of craziness I want to enjoy – in part to feel the adrenaline and in part to say, “I did it!” Overcoming fear is liberating. In 2015, I committed to trying two new experiences a month. Some months it was aggravating finding something to do, and sometimes I simply did not want to step outside my comfort zone; but 2015 is the most fulfilling year I have walked through in recent memory and it was worth the momentary struggle.
For years I lived in bondage to no. Then I finally realized how many of my life’s blessings came when I opened myself up to the unknown. My friendships started with a yes. Yes, I would love to go to lunch sometime. My education started with a yes. Yes, I do want to learn more about psychology and help people with their relationships. My marriage started with a yes. Yes, let’s go to a movie.
Ask “What is the worst that could happen if I say yes to this invite, adventure, or opportunity?” Then ask, “What is the best that can happen?” Is the worst possibility worth the risk of losing the best possibility?
The Porch Ladies
About a month ago, a familiar lady walked up to my door and knocked. Having never met her personally, my first thought was, “She is here to ask us to trim the tree at the edge of our property.” I tiptoed away, hoping to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. Eric answered the door and within seconds I heard, “Heather, can you come here?”
Standing at the door, I saw a smiling lady who introduced herself as Cecily. “Hi, I have lived in our neighborhood for over twenty-one years, and I am embarrassed to say I have never met you. I was thinking about having some neighborhood ladies over to sit on my porch and talk some night if you would be interested in joining us.”
In my head I was thinking, “No, I am good. I do not want to commit. What if it is uncomfortable?” But, my Southern, people-pleasing self blurted out, “That sounds good!” before I had a chance to think it through. About a week or so later, we had our first meeting of The Porch Ladies and I hope we continue fellowshipping like this for a long time. We have only congregated twice, but it has already been an enriching experience.
I have noticed that the more I say Yes, the less scary it is to keep saying Yes. When we get into a habit of opening doors rather than closing them, we more naturally invite newness into our lives. The same goes for saying No. When No becomes our go-to, we close off a major part of ourselves and we stop growing.
If you are already adept at trying new things, good for you. If you are like me and you need a little push, take it slow and say Yes to something today… and then tomorrow… and then keep going.
If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later! – Richard Branson
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. – Steve Jobs
Keep breaking free!!!
Is your first instinct to say No to new experiences? What would happen if you said, “Yes!”?