New year, new you. New year resolutions. Word of the year. Phrase of the year. The list of annual clichés and expectations goes on. As January quickly set in, I immediately found myself in a sea of scheduling: work conferences, family vacations, team offsites, kid activities. While excited for what lies ahead, I was quickly feeling the rising panic of a surfer who was about to lose her footing and get tackled by the wave. 

One of my major personal goals is to “Experience Freedom.” That can mean different things for different people but for me the overriding desire is to feel lighter, more connected to the things I love and ultimately more joyful. My natural inclination is to schedule all the things, organize all the things and then do all the things — maybe even adding in a few more as I go along. As that wave was rising, I paused long enough to breath and remind myself that to experience freedom, I may have to say “no.” 

Oh gosh, but I hate saying no because what if behind the no is something really spectacular and if I say no once, I might never have the chance to say yes to it again? (Could you feel me spiraling just then?) As I thought this, another wave started to build strength behind the one I was already on. It was in this moment that my wise life coach suggested that instead of saying “yes” or “no,” maybe what I really need to work on is saying “Hell Yes!” 

Instead of saying yes to everything which ultimately creates a rising tide that I can’t swim against, and instead of saying no which makes the ocean look like a boring puddle, how about I identify the things that make me say “Hell Yes!” There’s an indescribable feeling that comes with the notion of “Hell Yes!” I feel damn near giddy just saying the words out loud. 

It’s surprising how easily you can cut things out of your plans when you consider whether it levels all the way up to a Hell Yes! And for the things that do, how exciting are they to look forward to experiencing?!

So my challenge to myself and to anyone else who is so inclined is this: When planning out 2023, resist the urge to do it all, and instead just organize and plan and live the things that are a Hell Yes! Who knows, maybe I’ll even run into you on the beach.