Let’s Talk About… Yes

By Jeremy Godwin

Welcome to Let’s Talk About Mental Health; I’m Jeremy Godwin and every week I look at one aspect of better mental health and I share practical and straightforward advice that you can apply immediately to improve your wellbeing. 

Today I’m talking about saying yes and I’m looking at how to say yes to opportunities in a thoughtful way — so get comfortable, and Let’s Talk About Mental Health…

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This podcast episode was originally released on 21 November, 2021.

Hello and welcome to Episode 106, and thanks so much for joining me!

This week I’m talking about the word ‘yes’ (as in ‘yes, I will do that’!) and I’ll be covering what ‘yes’ is (and what it isn’t), why saying yes matters, and how to say yes in a way that protects your needs and boundaries. So, let’s talk!

Last week I talked about the word ‘no’ as being the second-greatest word (in my opinion), and this week it’s all about my all-time hands-down greatest word ever: ‘yes’. Why am I such a fan of ‘yes’? Because saying yes to new opportunities, and looking for possibilities rather than problems, is an invitation to yourself to grow. However, bearing in mind that last week was all about saying ‘no’, it’s important to be thoughtful and considered about what you choose to say ‘yes’ to. And how do you do that? Well, that’s what I’m talking about this week!

Introduction

To begin, let me tell you a brief story. In 2007 I was working for one of Australia’s big banks, and had been there for six years at that time, and by then I was working as a training and recruitment manager for the main national customer service centre. There were a lot of aspects of that job that I enjoyed, and there were just as many that I didn’t enjoy, and I was beginning to wonder “what next?” when one of the managers asked me if I would be interested in moving over to the contact centre as one of their frontline operations managers. Even though I was a bit nervous when she asked me, I said ‘yes’ and I’m very glad I did, because it was an opportunity to do something different with my career for the next few years after that. Was it perfect? No. Did it go downhill after she left the organisation? Absolutely. Did I have some terrible experiences in that role and the next one I took on? Without a doubt. Did I find myself, by 2011, feeling so disheartened by what I was doing that it led me down a path towards having a breakdown? Yes. 

So then why am I so happy that I said ‘yes’? 

There are a few reasons. First of all, I don’t do regrets (which I talked about back in Episode 22); even the not-very-pleasant stuff is an opportunity to learn and grow, and wanting to change the past is wasted energy. Secondly, if it weren’t for that role I wouldn’t have met some wonderful people who became trusted colleagues and even some long-term friends. And thirdly — and, in my book, most importantly — I wouldn’t be where I am today without those experiences; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

OK, let’s dig a bit deeper into this topic, starting with some definitions; so, let’s talk about… 

What ‘yes’ is (and what it isn’t)

The word ‘yes’ is one of the more common words we use (and as I said last week, ‘no’ is a very common one as well!) and it has a few different meanings, depending on the context; for this episode, I’m focusing on ‘yes’ as being the noun form which is an affirmative answer or decision.

Saying ‘yes’ is about being open to new ideas and new possibilities. Whilst saying ‘no’ is important when it comes to being realistic about what you can and cannot manage in the time that you have available, saying ‘yes’ is about recognising that in order to grow and flourish, we need to be pushing ourselves beyond the mundane and familiar; it’s that old saying that I’ve used a few times on this show, “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” In order for things to change, things have to change, and for that to happen you need to say ‘yes’ to change; and not just change for the sake of change, but change for the sake of personal development and growth. It’s not about saying yes because you feel you have to, but because you genuinely want to.

For me, saying yes should be about excitement rather than expectation; genuine interest instead of obligation. If we just say yes to everything that is requested or expected of us without considering our needs and our capacity, then we can end up feeling resentment and frustration (not to mention the negative effects all of that can have on our mental health).

And even if things don’t turn out how you had planned or had hoped, at least you’ve given it a try; I recently had an experience where the result wasn’t great, but I don’t regret saying yes to at least giving it a go because it has still turned out to be an excellent learning experience. Don’t think that means that sometimes I don’t get annoyed or frustrated about things like that — because I most certainly do! — but I’m also at a point in life where I can remind myself, even through the annoyance and the frustration, that taking chances and trying new things is preferable to sitting at home and never trying anything but then complaining that nothing changes. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! The amount of things I have tried out and failed at as I have been navigating my way through how to grow my podcast and my YouTube channel far outweigh my wins, but that’s how you find what works; you try new things. And yes, this is the part of the show where I am going to say “because nothing changes if nothing changes” for the 478th time this year… because it’s true! If you want things to stay the same, then stay the same. If you want your life to change, change your life. Although I would argue it’s hard to avoid change, since it’s going to happen anyway whether you want it to or not (because that’s life), but you can either be dragged along kicking and screaming or you can be the one driving the change in your life for the better. I know which option I choose!

So now let’s talk about… 

Why saying yes matters

I kind-of touched on this in the last point, but I’m going to say it again in a slightly different way: life is a collection of all of our experiences, and if we don’t try new things or take chances then we greatly limit our opportunities to grow. That is why saying yes matters; as I said back in Episode 5 (about taking chances), our unfulfilled dreams and desires can weigh us down and cause us to start playing the “what if?” game, which isn’t good for your mental health or for your life satisfaction!

Take this show for instance. I’ve been doing a fair bit of reflecting lately about my journey with this podcast — and my work in general — over the past two years (in a good way; I’m currently working on a book where I’m collating and updating some of the advice I’ve given over the past couple of years; if you’d like to stay up-to-date on what is happening with that, join my mailing list at letstalkaboutmentalhealth.com.au/subscribe — there’s a link in the episode description). 

Anyway, my point is that if it hadn’t have been for saying ‘yes’ to pursuing the somewhat-mad idea of starting a podcast way back in 2019, and for saying ‘yes’ again the next week (even after I only managed to muster four listens in the first week, and one of those was me!) and again the week after that, and so on, I wouldn’t be sitting here today recording the 106th episode of this show that I love doing with all of my heart, or celebrating the growth of my YouTube channel which has recently exceeded the 1,000 subscribers mark.

Saying ‘yes’ and taking a chance on things opens up a world of options and possibilities that just won’t be available to you if you sit at home and play it safe. I just said to someone the other day that fear is probably going to be with us no matter what we do, so you can either play it safe and be fearful that you’re missing out, or you can take a risk and accept that fear of failure goes with the territory. Either way, fear will probably be there somewhere… so you may as well turn it into something instead of avoiding risk entirely! 

Of course, with last week’s topic about saying no in mind (which was Episode 105), saying yes does require you to be thoughtful and considered so that you’re not biting off more than you can chew… which can be a balancing act sometimes.

How do you do that? Well that’s a great question and one that I’m about to answer, because it’s time to get into the how-to part of this episode! So, let’s talk about…

How to say yes in a way that protects your needs and boundaries

OK, so let’s begin with the biggest bit of advice I can give you… 

Choose to say yes — because quite often it’s easier to say no because ‘no’ keeps us safe from taking a risk and having it blow up in our face… but guess what? There are no guarantees either way. As I said earlier, you still need to consider all the stuff I mentioned last week (in Episode 105) about saying no, in terms of being mindful of what you can and cannot commit to, but assuming that you’ve taken all of that into account and whatever it is is something that you feel excited about… do it! Nothing ventured, nothing gained! OK, next…

Consider your goals and aspirations — and a very common bit of advice I give is about being clear on your priorities and making those the things that you focus on above all else, and I consider your long-term goals and aspirations to be a big part of that as well. If something is important to you, try new things and give it a go. If I had said ‘no’ to some of the opportunities that had come my way over the past two years, I wouldn’t have pushed myself to do what I’m doing now. Did everything pan out as I had hoped? No. But some of those things still turned out to be fantastic learning experiences, regardless of the outcome. Speaking of, my next point is…

Remember that learning is uncomfortable, and that’s OK — fun fact here: one of my earlier corporate jobs was in training, and I loved it (to this day, still one of my favourite jobs of all time) and part of the process of educating people is understanding the challenging steps involved in acquiring, embedding and applying new knowledge; that stuff takes time and it pushes us way out of our comfort zone… and that can make some people uncomfortable. And do you know what? Good. Growth should make you feel uncomfortable, and if it’s not challenging you then you really need to consider why. It’s OK to feel completely out of your depth; keep saying yes and keep on persevering, because it will eventually all begin to make sense and the pieces will gradually fall into place. You don’t learn a new language by just reading a book once; all things take time, effort, practice and perseverance. And speaking of time, my next point is…

Take time to make a considered choice — weigh up all of your options and consider your time and commitments, as well as your needs and boundaries, so that you can make the choice that is right for you. And bear in mind that there is a world of difference between saying yes because you want to versus saying yes to pacify someone else; people-pleasing doesn’t do you any good in the long term, so be certain that you are taking some time to look at the pros and cons of the thing you’re considering in order to make a thoughtful decision. Next…

If you can’t say a full ‘yes’ but you really want to, explore alternatives — just because you might not be able to say ‘yes’ to everything, that doesn’t mean you can’t say ‘yes’ to some things; I see a big difference between a full ‘no’ versus a partial ‘no’. For example, I know that I can’t say yes to things that interfere with the commitments that I have on certain days, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot say ‘yes’ to things that are within my available times. I think it’s always worthwhile to at least consider possible alternatives, and if you have any fear about that (especially in terms of talking to someone else) then remember these two things: life is rarely as black or white as simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and if you don’t ask, you don’t get. OK, so that leads to my next point… 

Identify why you say no (especially if you default to it) — and at this stage you might be thinking “but you talked about ‘no’ last week, this episode is supposed to be about saying ‘yes’!” and you’d be quite correct; my point here is about those times when we say ‘no’ as a knee-jerk reaction without really first considering what is in our own best interests… because the thing is that sometimes we don’t say yes to opportunities because it’s easier (and safer) to default to saying no. Now, as I said before (and last week), it’s important to say no when you need to but this is about saying no for the right reasons; in other words, not sabotaging yourself by saying no to things that you should probably be saying yes to (or at least having a go and seeing what happens). If you don’t try, you’ll never know… so if you are prone to saying no as an instinctive reaction, I encourage you to take time to work out why that happens so that you can address the root cause. I have covered a whole bunch of topics that can help you with some of the common causes: fear in Episode 10, insecurity in Episode 35, self doubt in Episode 104, shame in Episode 71, resistance in Episode 65… look, at this point I’m pretty-much just listing my entire back catalogue of episodes, so why not head over to letstalkaboutmentalhealth.com.au/episodes where you can find audio and free transcripts for every episode I’ve ever put out (and while you’re at it, join my mailing list to have the transcript land in your inbox each week); my point here is that whatever might be holding you back from saying ‘yes’ when you want to (or need to), do something about it! And that leads to my next point… 

Doing is different than dreaming — which is actually a quote from an article I found on themuse.com that I came across while researching this episode which really spoke to me (and I’ll link it in the transcript: https://www.themuse.com/advice/i-said-yes-to-everything-for-a-year-and-heres-what-happened). I’m going to quote a little more from it to make my point; the quote is: “In the past, I had a tendency to romanticize ideas I had for my future and my career. The problem was, so many of those ideas never came to fruition because I never put any actual effort into the dreams I was so busy weaving. I was pleasantly surprised to find that taking even the smallest chances had a domino-like effect in my life, and especially my career, in a very positive way.” And, again, that’s linked in the transcript. I can 100% relate to this quote because it’s not until you actually start to do the work that you can see your dreams come to fruition — and very often you’ll discover that leads to new possibilities that you never could have imagined if you had just remained in dream-mode, so do something… today! And that leads to my next point… 

Push past fear — fear is just a self-protection mechanism (and I talked about that in Episode 104, about self doubt), and if you let it control you then it will control you! The only way through fear is through it; I’m sorry there is no magic word or easy cure I can give you… you just have to keep on pushing through it if you want to create the future that you want (which I recently talked about in Episode 100, about the future). And don’t worry about not knowing everything; you don’t need to have all the answers straight away and it’s OK to work it out as you go along. In the words of Tina Fey, “Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” OK, my next point is…

Know that if you said yes to something, it’s OK to change your mind later — because it is. Do so with kindness and respect, and provide the other person with a brief understanding of why you need to change your mind (so that you can maintain the relationship and as a basic courtesy, which I just discussed in Episode 105 about saying no) but remember that you don’t have to justify yourself; you get to make the choices that are right for you, and if you do that with kindness then you’re good!

Alright, so now I have a few quick-fire ideas for you to consider as I begin to wrap up, starting with…

  • Create your own opportunities — it is unlikely that you will receive a call out of the blue offering you the chance of a lifetime; overnight success is extremely rare and opportunities hardly ever create themselves, so if you want something then you have to work for it… and that means saying ‘yes’ to yourself by creating your own opportunities! OK, next…
  • Focus on your intentions — be clear about what you want to achieve in your life and then consider that when you’re making decisions about what to say yes to. You’ll notice I said ‘intentions’ rather than ‘goals’ and that’s something my business coach has me focusing on, because it’s more about focusing on the things that are meaningful and purposeful to you (instead of goals, which are very number-oriented — numbers that are often out of your direct control)… so, just something to think about there! OK, next…
  • Cultivate positive thinking — when you look for the positives, you tend to find more to be positive about… which can help you to see opportunities where others might only see problems and challenges. Even difficulties can be turned to your advantage and every tough situation has something to teach us. I talked about positivity in Episode 90 if you’d like to explore the topic further. And speaking of, my next tip is… 
  • Be optimistic — because doubt and fear might try to tell you that the world is trash and that everything is terrible, but the truth is that most things eventually turn out for the best… and even tough times can have some positive outcomes in the longer term. I talked about optimism in Episode 47 and I encourage you to consider how the way you view the world has a direct impact on your willingness to take chances in life (and I talked about that topic in Episode 5). Next… 
  • Be curious — because when you ask questions and look at different ways of thinking, you begin to identify different options and approaches that might take you down a path you had never considered before. Nobody has all of the answers in life, and so it’s important to remain curious and to be proactive about learning as much as possible in order to grow. OK, next… 
  • Keep things simple — because it can be really easy to overcomplicate things in life, but it’s definitely not necessary; identify what matters most to you, make those things your priorities, and let everything else just be background noise; that helps you to immediately identify whether or not something is worthy of saying ‘yes’ to. I covered simplicity in Episode 63 if you’d like to explore that in more detail. And my next tip is… 
  • Do what feels right for you — because only you can decide what is best for you… and you’ll notice that I said ‘best’ for you; sometimes what is best for you isn’t necessarily the easy option, but that doesn’t mean that taking the so-called ‘easy’ choice is going to make things easier in the long run. You have to follow your heart with this stuff and learn to trust your instincts so you can make choices that feel right to you.

Summary and Close-Out

Because when it comes to ‘yes’ and mental health, what it all boils down to is this: Your future is shaped by the choices you make today, and if you say no to opportunities that might challenge you then you are saying no to your personal growth. You definitely need to consider your time and available capacity before you agree to things, just as you need to take into account your priorities and intentions, but the piece here is that growth requires us to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, so consider what opportunities you can choose to say ‘yes’ to.

The choice is yours, as it is with all things related to your wellbeing… so, what choice will YOU make today? 

Each week I like to finish up by sharing a quote about the week’s topic, and I encourage you to take a few moments to really reflect on it and consider what it means to you. This week’s quote is by an unknown author, and it is:

“Great opportunities come to those who make the most of small ones.”

Unknown

Alright… that’s nearly it for this week. Next week I’ll be talking about stuff. We live in a world full of stuff; you only need to step into any store to see a dizzying array of things that you probably never knew you needed (and which, I would argue, you also likely don’t need!), and then once we have stuff it can often be tough to let go of that stuff… so you just end up with more stuff! I am definitely no minimalist, and I have stuff like most of you, but I am learning to how to process my relationship with it along with understanding the negative impact that stuff can have on mental health (and since my mother has a severe hoarding disorder, I live in constant terror of going down that path)… so, since it’s something I’m working through, I decided to share my journey through that with all of you so that we can talk about stuff together. So, next time I’ll be talking about what stuff is (and how it impacts on our mental health), why managing your relationship to stuff matters, and how to deal with your stuff in a healthy way.

I hope you’ll join me for that episode, which will be released on Sunday the 28th of November, 2021. And on Wednesday you’ll also find another brand-new episode of Better Mental Health landing on YouTube (so take a moment to subscribe to my channel using the link in the episode description) or head to letstalkaboutmentalhealth.com.au where you can also join my free mailing list for my weekly newsletter (and my website is also linked in the episode description on whatever podcast service you’re currently listening to me on).

And, as always, find me on Instagram at @ltamentalhealth where I post extra content daily.

Thank you very much for joining me today — look after yourself and make a conscious effort to share positivity and kindness in the world, because you get back what you put out. Take care and talk to you next time.

Jeremy 🙂

Let’s Talk About Mental Health is proudly produced by Reconnaissance Media, helping you find gratitude and meaning. For more information visit reconnaissancemedia.com

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Find more content at www.letstalkaboutmentalhealth.com.au

Let’s Talk About Mental Health.
Simple ideas for better mental health.

Let’s Talk About Mental Health. © 2021 Jeremy Godwin.

5 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About… Yes

    1. No problems, it has been deleted. Thank you for sending it though because I am so happy to hear that my podcast has been helping. Take things one day at a time and look after yourself, and I wish you all the very best for the future! Jeremy 🙂

      Like

  1. Wow thank you Jeremy, loved both this and the ‘no’ podcasts, really at a poignant time when I’ve been fretting over whether to change my career direction and it’s made me quite stressed trying get a guarantee that it’s the right decision. I know it’s fear of the unknown and whether I am capable and can cope in a care role. But, I’ve gone for my training today, asked lots of questions and am planning what hours will suit me, balancing what I say yes and no to. So your podcasts have really helped. You have also helped me see the positives of my job I quit – I have a couple of really good friends and transferable skills and experience plus it’s helped me look at my career direction – thank you 😊

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