Chocolate CakeToday is the first day of my fortieth year.

I’m turning 39, but since we live a full year before turning 1, this is the beginning of my new decade.

As I review my 30’s, it becomes clear to me that I spent a lot of those years in service to others. I don’t regret it for a minute. It was certainly called for at the time. After a while, it became second nature — a habit, really. But the need has passed and it’s time to focus on new things. And to break that habit.

So, I’m taking the next year for myself.

I read a chapter in one of Cheryl Richardson’s books many years ago that has really stuck with me. I use it in business, I use it to organize my day, I use it to make decisions. It’s her concept of a “3 Yes List.”

Simply put, at any one time define 3 things that are a high priority for you. For a Life Yes List — big picture stuff — it could include children, time alone, social time, etc. Whenever you’re not sure if you should accept an invitation, a job, or even grant a favour, you consult your Yes List. If it relates to one of those items, go for it. If not, walk away. It’s not right for you in that moment.

So, instead of writing resolutions — basically a list of what’s wrong and how to fix me — I’m committing to a Yes List for my 40th year. This will give me a guideline to what I want to do and what I’d like to avoid over the next 365 days. I hope that it will propel me out of my helpful habits and open up my world even more.

My Yes List is pretty simple:

  • New, good experiences
  • Creativity
  • Self expression

If an opportunity meets one or more of these items, I’m more likely to take it. If not, it is probably not right for me at this time.

I also plan, however, to use my Yes List to check in and make sure that I don’t just cozily slide back into the warm blanket of the status quo. I will blog about my efforts (the good, bad, and — ugh! — the ugly) and hopefully, have a truly incredible year!

Happy birthday to me.

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