Today, I would like to talk about one of the most overused words in the English language -or probably any language. That word is “no.”
Don’t get me wrong. “No” certainly has its place. As children, we must learn that word to protect us from dangers we are too young to understand – hot stoves, strangers, crossing streets. As teens, we have to learn that if we stay up to late, we will never make it through school the next day, and if we go to a party before we write that paper, we can kiss the A goodbye. Parents must use the word no to help mold their children into job-keeping, tax-paying citizens.
But, too often, as we grow up and live our adult lives, we are hearing “no” when what we should hear is “give it a try.” How often did guidance counselors tell you that your major in the creative arts was unrealistic and you should change to something more practical? How many times did a family member tell you an idea was stupid – either because it was or because they didn’t want to see you fail or succeed? How many times did a friend tell you that you shouldn’t do something a little crazy because people would laugh at you? So you didn’t do it and in the process, you learned to say “no” to yourself.
After hearing “no,” and letting it guide our decisions for so many years, it is no wonder that so many adults find themselves living their lives with regret. So often you hear people say if only, if only I had done this, or I should have done that, but now it is too late. Well, I say they couldn’t be more wrong!
Maybe you said no to something small – not a life changing dream – but a hobby, something you were always drawn to but never pursued. Did you want to paint, or rollerskate? Did you dream of climbing mountains, or scuba diving? Did you want to play the piano, the harmonica, the dijeridoo? Maybe you wanted to build a rocking chair or sculpt an eagle out of soap.
Maybe the things you have regret over are bigger than that. Did you let the love of your life drift away? Did you settle for a safe carreer where you would have health insurance and a 401(k) when what you really wanted was to join the Peace Corp and help build schools in third world countries? Maybe you moved to a big city to pursue a job in stock trading, but you have always dreamed of living in the country. Maybe you have always wanted to travel and have never left your hometown.
You have probably made up a lot of great excuses as to why you chose a different path, why you played it safe, and why you could never try these things now. I don’t know how; I am too fat; I am not in good enough shape; I don’t have the money; I don’t know how to start; I will look like a fool; People will laugh at me; People will see me; I’ll fail; I won’t be any good at it; It’s too late. We all have a list of excuses like this that we run through when we are trying to convince ourselves that we are better off staying right where we are and not dipping a toe in the water.
Bottomline? You never did any of these things because you have been saying “no” to yourself and to the universe. And if you say it loud enough and often enough, the universe stops asking you to come out to play.
Everyone is going to get a little homework now! I want you to think of something that you have said “no” to and do one thing today that says “yes.” You don’t have to shout it from the rooftops. Though if you feel like jumping into the deep end, by all means, be my guest. Even if it is just a whisper – say “yes.”
Google your dream. I will guarantee you will find sites about it, whatever it may be. Learn something about the topic. Find an online forum and lurk where others are talking about it. Find a teacher or a mentor. Check a book out of the library about your dream. (As my husband will attest, I firmly believe you can find a book about anything. :)) Sign up for a class, subscribe to a magazine, get out a notebook and just start brainstorming ways to bring this dream into your life.
Once you begin to say “yes” to your dream, the universe will toss opportunities into your path. The universe LOVES “Yes.”
What have you been saying “no” to? What would happen if you started to say “yes?” How will you start to say “yes” today?