I recently left a job that was causing me a lot of anxiety and stress and when I posted the update on my LinkedIn profile with this website as my 'job' someone commented that I must often say 'yes'. I had never really thought about this until that point. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I have said yes to some strange or unusual things in the past which has brought me to where I am today. I also started to realise how often I hear people say no. So I wanted to write today about why saying yes can be scary but also can lead to things you never thought possible.
When you are faced with a challenging or difficult situation I think that many of us instinctively try to protect ourselves. We do this by avoiding tough decisions by saying "I don't know" or my stepping away from challenges by saying "I can't do that". I know I still do this sometimes and I know that my wife is an expert at saying "I don't know" when I ask her what she wants for dinner. When I was overweight I gave up on my fitness. I used to rationalise my weight by saying as long as I'm under 100kgs, as long as I'm under 110kgs and I eventually stopped weighing myself all together. I have always considered myself a pretty brave guy. I mean if I went to Hogwarts I would be in Gryffindor for sure! But now when I look back my rationalisations and deferrals meant that I was not being brave. I chose to ignore my own personal issues rather than face them head on. Why did I, like so many other people do that? Because it is easy. It can be easy to say no to things. To never leave your comfort zone. If you are like that there is nothing wrong with that either. I have my own comforts that even now I will not change. But I now realise there was a definitive point when I started to say 'yes. I know you are all probably familiar with my story now but it was saying yes that has made all the difference.
When I was 23 a bloke came into my life that would literally change it forever. He is pretty much the most British man alive. He came from the UK to work at the same hotel as me in Sydney. His name is Robert Woolley. This bloke is your typical English gentleman so naturally I found him a bit weird. But it turned out that we actually lived in the building next door to each other. So we started walking home from work together. As I got to know Rob, he started telling me about how he was going to Canberra to race a half-ironman so he could do a full one the next year. When he told me what it entailed I literally laughed at him. "Why the hell would you want to do that?". Come January and my 24th birthday, Rob had an idea. He wanted to sign me up for a triathlon for my birthday present. I accepted.
After I did that first race there was a shift in my focus. When an opportunity presented itself, I found myself saying yes a lot more often. Now this wasn't a conscious decision. It is just something I know realise in retrospect I had started to do. The biggest shift however came after I had been though my massive weight-loss and completed my first half-ironman. After losing as much weight as I did, most of it in the middle of Norwegian Winter, other things in my life seemed either easy or obtainable. I decided to apply for a law degree. This was something that I had wanted to study since I was a boy. It would also be the third time that I applied. To this day, the night I got my letter of acceptance is one of the happiest moments of my life. We moved back from overseas and purchased an apartment to live in. Off I went to law school and that is what I am currently studying. I have and still do suffer from anxieties and fears about not being smart enough to study law. But as I said, I know that compared to what I have been through in the past it is not that bad.
Since moving back to Australia I have continued to set myself challenges. Some of those challenges I have failed at and others I am still working towards. I am not afraid to take up the challenge anymore, I believe that I will get there. I am not afraid to say 'yes'.
I know that many people who want to lose weight probably hit the same point as me where I decided that there was nothing I could do about it. But I want to tell you all that it isn't true. You can make a change. You can start to say yes to those things that might scare you or push you outside of your comfort zone. Give it a try, who knows what you will find once you start to say yes too? By saying yes to things I have ended up somewhere I never thought I would be able to go. I am so much happier than I ever was before. It isn't easy, it isn't simple, but if it was it wouldn't be worth it.
So thank you to Don for commenting on my LinkedIn update because you made me realise just how important saying yes has been to me. Those three letters have changed my life forever!
Thanks for reading, have a crack and remember to TRI!!!