The plan was simple.

Go to college, get a degree, and find a great job to work there the rest of your life.

That could have been my strategy plan for life. That’s what my parents laid out for me when I was a high schooler looking towards the future.

College was mandatory. My mom wasn’t given the opportunity because she was “just a girl” and she had a boyfriend (my father) whom she was going to marry anyway. She didn’t need a degree. So my mom made sure I went instead.

My dad worked for a company for almost thirty years. My parents taught me to find a good company, work hard, move up, and reap the rewards. The problem is their words didn’t match their actions.

My dad died at 54 from all the stress his job brought down on him. He reinterviewed again and again and again for a job he came to hate. He worried about making retirement – early outs were available at the age of 55. So he reinterviewed and hoped and kept his head down, counting the days. He was 73 days short.

Work for one company for life? My dad proved that wasn’t a good path.

And every year, the path became more convoluted.

Nope, not the path for me.

My husband went through three jobs in three years, thanks to corporate downsizing.

I had more red tape then I knew what to do with. The stress of closing down our office and either losing my job or being forced to move across the country loomed. Ugh. Stress. And I wasn’t even thirty.

I didn’t start out wanting to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t understand what it meant to be a creative.

But watching, learning, growing, listening, changing – that all did something to me.

Very soon I discovered that risk means staying in one place. Risk comes from doing the same.

Change is how your adjust. Change is a very good thing.

So I trusted change. I quit everything for the chance to do it all on my own.

No role models in my life. Every family member, every friend up until that point chose “safety.” And “safety” to them meant a job with a company and a paycheck every other Friday.

Find New Role Models
When you don’t have something in your life, you go looking for it. We picked up a magazine and started reading. (This was in the early 90s. Internet? What Internet? We were there, but we were one of the only ones.) We learned and experimented. We signed up for a workshop and attended. We read advice and found out how to make things work. We asked questions and listened to the answers. We tried whatever they said.

Test and Tweak
Some things work. Others don’t. So we tried something and learned. Did it work well? What didn’t work at all? What could we do differently? And when you think about it, isn’t that life? We get it right when we’re kids – we test all the time. But somewhere along the way we lose the ability to find out the bad stuff. Instead of using our failures as our tweakers, we try to avoid failures at all costs.

Relish In The Good
Some things work! Hurray! Don’t just move on, celebrate them. Live in the now and pat yourself on the back. Because the good makes you who you are. It teaches you. It builds your character. It sets you up for what’s next. It helps you choose your pathway. It helps build your happiness.

Always Look For You
There’s an adage that says “fake it til you make it.” I love that and have done that all my life. Yes, you have to pretend like you’re at the top of your game long before you are. Yes, you have to copy others to understand what makes you tick. But don’t forget you’re you. Don’t copy so much that you lose you. Sure, you want to be a (fill in the blank.) But you’re not your average (fill in the blank.) You’re you. How can you do things a bit different? How do you see what this really means to the world? Copy. Of course. But don’t forget to add you to the mix. That’s what makes it brilliant.

Practice Your Creativity
Another day of A, B, C. Is that how life was meant to go? Nope. It’s intended to discover new things all the time. Small kids can pick up a rock and see a whole new world. But we go into zombie mode early in adulthood, walking aimlessly through life. Hit snooze button. Pack lunch. Sit at desk eight hours. Watch television for five hours. Go to bed and do it all over again. What if you went dancing instead? What if you picked up a paintbrush? What if you went for a hike? Or parachuted out of a plane? Or simply took a drive to the beach? Open up that mind. It has a wealth of opportunity if you only unlock the door.

Say Yes
There are thousands, millions of pieces of advice that teach you better ways of saying no. A Google search ranked well over 100 million ways to do it. With a click, I can find out how to say to no to anyone, even a friend, or discover 10 guilt free strategies for saying no. How about the when, why, and how to say no? Or even 21 ways to give good no.

(I love the creativity of the titles. Who knew we had such trouble with the no’s!)

I agree. Saying no can be difficult. When your child’s school is begging you to take on a project because you’re so good at it, how do you say that two letter word?

Because a no can lead you to a better yes. The yes can be difficult. It can be hard as hell. Saying no can break up relationships. It can cost you your job. It can take away everything you’ve held near and dear to your heart.

But if you’re contemplating a change, it’s the yes that gets you to move. And to get there, it requires A LOT of no’s.

The YES gives you life again. The YES sets you on fire. The YES changes you for good, guaranteed.

Here’s my challenge to you this week:

Find your yes.

Read through these steps again and again. Contemplate what it will take to see your yes, reach out to your yes, achieve your yes.

It may be time for a little reinvention!