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No More Excuses: How a year of Yes changed my life

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Though I’m not exactly proud to admit it, I was kind of a total wuss when it came to trying stuff for a long time. I was an expert at creating masterful semi-honest excuses. Something looks too hard? Oh, old injuries. Too scary? Let me get photographs of all you instead! Life was boring and difficult – and I was full of excuses.

ExploringOregon 2010
After her epiphany, Jillian stopped saying, "no," and found herself on many adventures, like this one to Oregon's high country. All images courtesy Jillian Bejtlich.

Then in 2009, at roof top New Year’s Eve party in Boston, I had an epiphany: I was making too many excuses. I challenged myself to say, “yes” to every single reasonable relatively safe and sane (as defined by me) opportunity that came my way.

Soon enough, the “Hey, do you want to come and [insert activity name I previously would have said no to]?” started coming my way. Next thing I knew, my life was full of bartending classes, swing dancing, competitive floor hockey, target practice, snowboarding, caving, white water rafting, trying new foods, and so much more.

Snowboarding 2014
Yes leads to powder stashes.

Suddenly I was meeting new people, taking on new tasks at work, and finding excuses really uncomfortable.

Next thing I knew, life took a few pages straight out of a movie. I met my future husband/outdoor partner on the competitive floor hockey team. All those unrelated yes’s at work led to the start of a new career (that I love). And that boring life with occasional solo pity parties? Long gone and replaced with excitement and diversity.

After that first year, I learnt that I didn’t need to say, “yes” to everything but instead to really think about why I was saying “no.”

Excuses weren’t cool. Logical reasoning was. Being dangerous wasn’t the end goal, but pushing my comfort zone definitely was. I’ve lived that way ever since – and what a life it has been. The word “yes” has taken me everywhere.

BackToHiking 2010
Yes can also lead to true love.

By now, you’re probably wondering what in the world any of this has to do with hiking, shoes, or the outdoors in general. The link is simple:

You need to say, “yes” way more.

Chances are you’re reading this you know that the outdoors doesn’t take excuses.

If you want that sunrise summit experience, you have to earn it. If you want to find the best untouched powder, you have to hike for it. If you want the solitude and peace that can only come with a campsite miles and miles into the woods, you need to make it there on your own. The only thing really stopping you is you… and excuses (okay, and maybe terrible gear choices and weather).

So the next time someone invites you for an adventure, don’t think about the lost sleep or heavy backpacks. Just get out there. Who knows what might happen?

Jillian is an intrepid New Englander who blogs at Tales from the Trails.

At the heart of everything we do are the folks who make the magic happen. A group of likeminded footwear-industry vets who left our big-brand jobs back in 2007 intent on doing business a better way. 

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