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How to say, “Yes!”

May 6, 2019

When talking recently with a friend about having a yes! philosophy to life, I said that coming up through journalism, I learned to automatically respond as such when opportunities arose, lest another reporter get the story. That often meant accepting a challenge I didn’t know anything about. Though harrowing at times, the habit became a lifelong practice that has since led to many adventures, including a backpacking trip where I met my husband.

After the conversation, however, I realized there are three specific things I do, and that you can, too, to turn more nays into yays!, especially when it comes to physical adventures.



If you hear about an opportunity and your reaction is, “That sounds so fun!”, that’s a challenge to contemplate in more depth. Remember that fun is not synonymous with easy. Instead, fun means what promises to prove interesting, challenging and push the boundaries of your normal life.

A case in point is when I received an email from the Richard Schmidt Surf School in Santa Cruz about 1-week surfing camps in Costa Rica in Jan./Feb. My instant response was, “That sounds like fun!”


The naysaying part of my brain immediately lit up. What if I couldn’t handle the waves? What would it be like sharing a house with nine other participants? Should I really spend the money on such a luxury?

But because the yes! proved so strong, the possibility made that crucial shift from “I can’t,” to “I can.”

If you don’t have that immediate response, there’s a good chance something about the experience is not appropriate for you, whether skill level, location or social situation.



Once you’re in the yes! column, the challenge is to use the time between now and the adventure to make the experience happen.  Just knowing you have the skill to figure things out, even if you know precious little at the moment, is a huge add to your life!



Making the experience happen is where the real work takes place. That includes finding out as much as you can about the setup, the reputation of the outfitter you’ll be dealing with and who else will be participating. Then comes arranging transportation, acquiring the right equipment and taking care of any other details, such as having the right currency and knowing any local customs.

And a word about cost. Some adventures may well be out of the contention for that reason. But I’ve managed a number of experiences cheaply by bartering services; borrowing equipment; and/or buddying up on hotel, transportation or other costs. While not always true, the saying where there’s a will, there’s a way is true often enough that trying pays off.

Secondly, if during your exploration you get strange vibes about the situation, whether due to safety concerns or questionable reviews or poor communication from the organizers, feel free to scrap the attempt. You can always look for a similar experience where you get all of the information necessary to make you feel safe.



The last part of saying yes! is to reassure yourself that even if the experience you attempt doesn’t go as planned, you’ll be okay. That means giving yourself an out for any given situation. Regarding my surfing trip, I told myself if I didn’t feel comfortable with the wave size, I’d find surf where I felt more comfortable.

Other outs include getting second options for hotels or finding other fun things to do in the area if the experience you’re participating in doesn’t pan out.



I would never have gone surfing in Costa Rica without the fantastic experience that Richard provides attendees. No way would I have known where to go surfing, much less where to stay. Nor would I have wanted to go alone! So saying yes!, then following up with the work necessary to make the experience happen, really paid off.

If you have a yes! experience to tell, let me know!


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