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How to say "Yes" before you're ready

June 23, 20235 min read

Go Fearwards Friday: 23 June

Hello there!

This is issue #8 of Go Fearwards Friday, where I share something each week to encourage, inspire and equip you to embrace fear and fuel your potential.

This week at a glance:

Read time: 4 minutes

This week's issue is all about saying 'yes' before you're ready: why it works and how to implement this Go Fearwards strategy to propel you towards your potential.

Let's go 👇

How one word can transform your life

When Shonda Rhimes, the award-winning creator of hit TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, challenged herself to say yes to everything that scared her for a year it transformed her life. In her best selling book 'Year of Yes', she talks about how it helped her overcome her fears including public speaking, social anxiety, and self-doubt. She also speaks about discovering the joy of saying yes to things that she loved too, like playing with her children.

I have been experimenting with saying ‘yes’ too as a way to propel myself towards my goal of becoming a professional speaker. It's creating a fair bit of momentum already, with a paid keynote session under my belt and 5 further unsolicited  'yes' opportunities to come, I can safely say this strategy gives you wings!!

The science bit

Saying 'yes' has some pretty sound psychological underpinnings:

Exposure Therapy: Saying "yes" to new experiences or opportunities can expose you to situations that trigger fear or discomfort. Exposure therapy is a well-established psychological technique works by gradually and repeatedly exposing yourself to feared situations so that you gradually build resilience and confidence in dealing with them and desensitise yourself to the fear response over time.

Cognitive Reframing: When you say "yes" before you're ready, you instantly challenge limiting thoughts and beliefs and reframe them in a more positive and empowering way. By actively choosing to Go Fearwads in this way you shift your perspective from a mindset of avoidance or limitation to one of growth and possibility in just one word. It’s great for helping you overcome self-imposed barriers and expand your perceived potential.

Growth Mindset: The concept of a growth mindset, developed by psychologist Carol Dweck, emphasises the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and effort. Saying "yes" before you're ready aligns with the growth mindset by encouraging you to embrace challenges and view them as opportunities for growth. By stepping outside your comfort zone and taking on new experiences, you cultivate a mindset that values learning, resilience, and continuous improvement.

How to say "yes" so you shoot off like a rocket  🚀

Saying "yes" to everything could have its pitfalls including overwhelm, burnout and other unanticipated consequences. So it’s definitely worth being mindful of a few things to help you mitigate these and reap all the positive rewards.


1. Know what your best yeses are: Saying "yes" to every opportunity may lead to overwhelm and burnout. So check, does this opportunity align with my values, goals, and interests? Prioritise those that genuinely resonate with you and have the potential for personal and professional growth.  Also, being clear on this upfront means it’s more likely that you will experience opportunities arising.  For me it’s speaking opportunities.  Since I decided that this was an aim of mine a few months ago I’ve had six unsolicited opportunities to say yes!


2. Start Small: Gradually expose yourself to new experiences and challenges. Begin with manageable steps that stretch your comfort zone without overwhelming you. As you build confidence and resilience, you can gradually take on more significant challenges. So the Yes’s so for me have been keynote sessions, masterclasses, talks at networking meetings, podcast interviews. Then one yes was possibility to speak on stage at an event next year.  The yeses that are closer to now are going to be good prep for saying yes to being on a bigger stage in future.


3. Trust you will be able to do it and that all you need to do right now is say "Yes".  This is the crux of it all. Think about all the things you’ve learned in life that may have felt complex or difficult to overcome but now feel effortless or certainly more comfortable.  Your ability to learn has been battle tested!! So trust it.  Say "yes" now, knowing you can get what you need, whether that’s knowledge, skill or resources.


4. Seek Support: If you hold the view that you have to do everything yourself for it to count then you'll need to be prepared to drop that. In order to become someone who says "yes" and reaps the rewards without the pitfalls you need other people to provide encouragement, guidance, support and belief in you.  If you’re putting yourself in new and unfamiliar territory, getting help from someone who knows the terrain is a savvy move.


5. Be willing to fail: Being willing to fail is not the same as actually failing, but it's the willingness that will allow you to seize the opportunity. It’s worth reframing what failure would look like for your ‘yes’. Explore what’s the worst that could happen? When you look at what that is, you’ll realise how unlikely it is and that even if those scenarios did play out you could bounce back. 


6. Allow it to be messy:  This might be another challenge: letting go of perfection. Anything significant we learn is never perfect at first (think images of babies wobbling all over the place trying to crawl and walk). Allow whatever you’re doing to be a little rough round the edges, judge yourself in line with the purpose of this, which is action, momentum, growth - not the highest quality standards possible.  A friend calls it ‘going ugly early’, I rather like that!

Well that's all for this week. What are your 'best yeses'?  Hit reply and let me know.

See you next week!

Em x


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P.P.S. you can now read all issues of Go Fearwards Friday on the blog

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Emma O'Brien

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