Saying Yes in a Year of No
When I ordered the Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, I thought that it felt ironic as 2020 has been more like the big fat Year of No.
I had started 2020 thinking that it would hands down be my biggest Year of Yes yet. Sean and I had said yes to moving across the world. I had said yes to leaving my job to pursue this new adventure. I had said yes to wanting to start a program in order to expand my education and to upskill. These yeses were sure to introduce me to opportunities that would be full of saying yes to things that scared me and challenged me. Personal growth was a guarantee! This was going to be my year of self discovery! YES! YES! YES!
Then our visa process got delayed. NO! Then a global pandemic which caused Australia to close their borders. NO! This year has been relentless and continues to feel like one roadblock after another.
Here I am trying to say YES!!! and so many doors have closed with big fat NOs. Life feels like it is on pause. So how do I say yes now? How do I move forward from here even when I am trying to say yes? Please Shonda, tell me and shed some light. Maybe I do need this book now more than ever.
How Shonda Started her Year of Yes
Shonda is the critically acclaimed and award-winning creator and executive producer of the hit television series Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal and the executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder and The Catch. You may have heard of some of these series… Her Shondaland empire is kind of a big deal!
Even with her wild success, Shonda still found herself feeling miserable. Her wake up call was when her sister called her out and said,
“You never say yes to anything.”
All she was doing was working. She had been telling herself that she was too busy to do anything else. I think many people can relate. She declared that she would say yes to things that scared her for a year. Why? She determined that:
- Saying no has gotten me here.
- Here sucks.
- Saying yes might be my way to someplace better.
- If not a way to someplace better, at least to someplace different.
With a year of saying yes to things that scared her, Shonda experienced many life-changing revelations and lessons.
LESSON ONE: DITCH THE DREAM. BE A DOER, NOT A DREAMER.
Shonda really drove this point home when she gave her Dartmouth commencement speech. She told the graduating class of ’14 that dreaming would not get them anywhere, she encouraged them to get out there and do.
“I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, powerful, engaged people? Are busy doing.”Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes
Also, #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething. Really do the work!
LESSON TWO: BEING ABLE TO SAY NO IS ACTUALLY A PART OF SAYING YES TO YOURSELF.
You don’t want to be a pushover and just say yes to anything. Being able to say no and to be direct about your no, can actually make more room for the right yeses and to rid yourself of added drama and wasted time. Here are the ways that she advises that you can say no:
- I am going to be unable to do that.
- That is not going to work for me.
No is a powerful word. To me, it’s the single most powerful word in the English language. Said clearly, strongly and with enough frequency and force, it can alter the course of history.”Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes
Additionally, has anyone ever said anything offensive or off-putting to you and instead of addressing it in that moment, you obsess over it and let it bother you for days and days on end? I love Shonda’s idea of saying, “What do you mean by that?” I am definitely going to try that response the next time that I find myself in that situation!
“When someone says something petty or nasty, one of those little passive-aggressive things that would usually just pick at me for days, my new response is not to shut the door and bitch to anyone who will listen. Now? The moment they say it? I ask, ‘What did you mean by that?’ in a calm voice.”Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes
LESSON THREE: PRACTICE BADASSERY AND THE WONDER WOMAN POSE
“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes
Shonda says that women have a hard time accepting compliments and praise for their accomplishments and it’s true. I always feel so uncomfortable interviewing and talking about myself and my achievements. Ladies, this is unacceptable! We need to practice badassery. When someone compliments you simply say, “thank you” no excuses, ands, buts, or ifs! Talk about your accomplishments and hard work with pride rather than taking a modest, meek approach. Let’s normalize it so that we no longer feel this way!
The Wonder Woman Pose with your hands on your hips and feet spread wide apart will make you feel more confident and badass. Give it a try! Shonda says so!
LESSON FOUR: MAKE TIME TO PLAY
“I change the bottom of my email signature so that it now reads: ‘Please Note: I will not engage in work emails after 7 pm or on weekends. IF I AM YOUR BOSS, MAY I SUGGEST: PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE.‘”Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes
Then guess what? She actually does it! Before, she did not prioritize play. That playful part of her had been lost but by placing these boundaries, she was able to spend valuable time playing with her daugthers and re-discovering that fun part of herself again.
LESSON FIVE: YOU ARE WORTH IT!
“I can experience life or I can give up on it.”SHONDA RHIMES, YEAR OF YES
Don’t forget that you are worth experiencing life. If you have found yourself giving up on it, you can start your own Year of Yes and get back on the right track.
Have Shonda and I driven home the fact that saying YES will change your life? Good. Give her book a read and while you are at it, check out the other books that I have reviewed too.
Even though, this feels like the Year of No, I think that these are very valuable lessons and you can ALWAYS find ways to say YES to yourself and to finding someplace better, or at least to someplace different.