Last year I decided to attempt cross off 12 things from my list in 2011. When I came up with this idea, it was simply to hold myself more accountable for actively seeking out new opportunities and putting forth an effort to do the things I’ve always wanted to do.
I’m a strong believer in making things happen for yourself. I’ve learned that sometimes simply stating your desire to do something sends you closer to accomplishing it than you would imagine. That’s not to say that luck, good fortune, and the help of others are also often necessary. But sitting around and waiting for opportunities to make their way to you is, in my opinion, not going to get you very far.
So last year when I decided to try to cross off 12 things from my list, it instantly changed my mindset for the year. Any time a potential opportunity arose for something on my list, instead of thinking to myself, “I wanna try that some day” I found myself thinking, “Yes! That is something I want to do this year. Sign me up.”
The shift from “someday” to “this year” was huge for me. I realized that we so often rely on the “someday” mentality, that we tend to forget the right now of our lives. Sure, there are always distractions, financial issues, and other life events that get in the way. And sometimes there’s no way around them. (There were several things I could have done this year, but had to decline due to time or money restraints.) But it’s important to remember that life will always be in the way, and not to rely on those as excuses to not do the things you really want to do.
So, I entered into 2011 with a new outlook on life. I had a “just say yes” mentality*, and then figured the rest out later. For example, I registered for my first half marathon. It was something I had always wanted to try, but felt in no way ready for. I had never run more than 5 or 6 miles at one time, and even that only happened once, many years ago. But by just saying yes, signing up, and figuring it out later, I had no choice but to train and get ready to run my first 13.1.
Had I waited until I knew I could run that distance before signing up, I never would have gotten there. Just by saying I’d do it, I found a way to make it happen.
Between focusing on 2011 instead of “someday”, and by just saying yes, last year was one of the most fulfilling years I can remember. I danced on stage; I traveled around Ireland; I sang karaoke alone; I ran not one but two half marathons – and signed up for a full marathon. But it’s not only the cool stuff I was able to do that made the year memorable. It’s the new embrace-life mentality that came from it that really resonated with me.
So, for 2012, I have decided to continue the trend and set out to accomplish 12 more things this year. Be sure to check my 12 Things in 2012 page to see my progress.
*Disclaimer: I’m not talking about saying yes to completely irresponsible things. If I were thinking about quitting my job, buying a Porsche boxter, and driving across the country on no income, for example, I wouldn’t “just say yes” because it sounds like something I’d want to do. You need to be realistic here, too.