It took me over eight years to complete my first novel, Alarm Clock Dawn. Why? Because I am my own worst enemy. For almost a decade my brain spewed a steady stream of self-doubt, fear, and hundreds of excuses as to why I couldn't finish the manuscript. I don’t know how to write a novel, I don’t have time, and at least ninety eight more idiotic excuses.But outside influences (mainly the wish to escape a horribly stressful job in which I was working 60-70 hours per week) forced me to push through the self doubt and fear and finish the novel against all odds. The final push came from a friend at a dinner party who jokingly asked me if I finished that novel yet. The day I finished the first draft was one of the best days of my entire life.
I've met a lot of people in my forty-three years on Earth and most humans are their own worst enemies. Something in our DNA seems makes most of us self-saboteurs. It’s so easy and comfortable to give into the self doubt and fear and take no chances. I gave into this way of thought and said no to opportunities for almost twenty years. After a while I simply grew tired of disappointment and disenchanted with failure. I wanted to say yes to life.
Charles Bukowski said, “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” It’s sad but true and this one quote explains why our world is in the shape it is. Some of the most intelligent people I know are trapped in a self imposed prison cell they’ve constructed inside their own heads. Their lives become paralyzed in a maze that keeps them in a continuous loop of over thinking.They forget how to listen to their hearts and their intuition.
Finishing my novel taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my whole life. I learned the life we all want lies just on the other side of doubt and fear. Things feel the bleakest just before your big breakthrough. The life of your dreams begins after you say yes. Once you push through to the other side there is no turning back. The adrenaline produced by standing toe to toe with fear becomes addictive. There truly are no limits except for the ones we impose on ourselves.
Once I dipped my toe into the pool of success I began to notice others around me who live their lives by this mantra. Some of these people have overcome great failures. Some have just thought outside of the box of conventional thinking or refused to be pigeonholed into stereotypes.
A few years ago my wife and I took up roller skating. Shortly after we started we met Robert, one of the fastest skaters at the rink. Robert appears to be fifty-five or so but we discovered later he’s nearly seventy. He still rides dirt bikes, break dances, and is a faster skater than people half his age. What is his secret? Good genes might have a little to do with it but even more importantly, Robert says yes to life.
The next time you think of trying something new (and outside your comfort zone) and feel that familiar tinge of fear, simply say yes. The next time the universe presents you with an opportunity that you think you’re not ready for say yes and figure out a way to make it happen. I promise it will get easier the more you do it. You will be amazed at how fast your life will change for the better. This tiny three letter word carries a lot of power. Just say yes, stand back, and watch the magic happen.
~Eric Vance Walton~