The summer of YES

I said yes. I said yes to everything. To the lake-house. Twice. To the soccer tournament in Hershey and the wedding in the Catskills. I said yes to the playdates we normally have to say no to. I said yes to the weeknight BBQs and weekend beach days. And I said yes to Noa at SoulCycle – a lot. Yes, yes, yes.

It’s not very often, if ever, we get to properly stop and catch our breaths and decide what we want to do versus what we have to do. Where we get to be ‘choosers not pickers’ as coined by Barry Schwartz. This was the unexpected gift of my job ending abruptly in June. That big “No” launched my Summer of Yes.

We constantly read how the daily barrage of news (real and fake), social media (isn’t all media social???) and the ongoing assault of real-world issues from hurricanes to sexist umpires to crooked politicians is beating up our brains. We are always tired. Always apologizing. Overweight. Over-stressed and under sexed (who has time for that?)

Well this summer I took that much needed breath. I got to choose what I wanted to say yes to and I moved seamlessly from FOMO to JOMO – a massive leap for those of you who know me well.

But the universe likes to keep us on our toes and so as the one hand gives, the other takes away, reminding us to take nothing for granted. There were many nights I was awakened by my gremlins wondering where I was, who I was becoming and whose life was this anyway because it sure as hell wasn’t mine! In those hot, humid moments (hours – but who’s counting) I felt like an imposter. I was a stranger in my own skin.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been defined by what I did, where I worked and what I thought I should be doing. Much of my time and my choices were not my own – I had obligations and commitments that I had to keep. I was saying yes to the wrong things. And FOMO. Big time. If I didn’t do this and that person did, then clearly they would win the new client, get the promotion and I wouldn’t. Clearly a stretch but one that happened in a millisecond in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working and being busy. I tend to thrive in chaos and noise and clutter (probably why I have a soft spot for Vegas). I am one of those people for whom the pace of this crazy city gives energy rather than takes it away. But autopilot is a reality and I was either just going through the motions or I was making decisions based on expectations that other people had for me. All the smiling faces grinning through my social media, the pristine panelists at the conferences, the auto-generated recruitment offers saying go, go, go – they all had my best interests at heart – didn’t they?

What I realized this summer is that no one knows what’s best for me but me. And what in moments was a bizarre absence of ‘me’ actually shed light on another me, a more balanced, calmer and focused me. One that could abandon social media for months and not have FOMO. A me that had the kind of quality time with my kids that every parent craves and regrets not having enough of every time we watch them slip their headphones on. And a me that now recognizes the difference between friends and acquaintances (thank you friends, you know who you are…)

So after a summer of reflection and conscious ‘yeses’ what’s left to say yes to? I can’t wait to say yes to alignment. Wait, what? Yup creating alignment between who I am and where I choose to be – the simplest definition of success (Eric Barker brilliantly talks about this in his book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, which I had time to read this summer.)

I say yes to finding that beautiful balance where I can align my values with my skills, creating a powerful force for achievement, significance, happiness and legacy.