Living Well: Saying Yes to the Unknown

  • Photography by: Amanda Boyce
  • Living Well Editor:: Jess Lively

A few months ago, I shared ways to say “no” to opportunities that aren’t right for us. And while that is a valuable skill to develop for lasting success, saying “yes” to new opportunities is equally important.

In fact, I think we spend our lives dancing between the art of saying “no” to things that don’t fuel or growth and “yes” to things that scare us, but might be exactly what we want to do next.

So when an opportunity appears that may feel scary or risky, we need to evaluate whether those feelings are coming from a place of internal wisdom – your intuition is sensing something isn’t right about the situation – or if they are coming from your ego’s fear of the unknown.

How can you tell if your feelings are coming from a place of irrational fear or deep wisdom?

Simply imagine if the opportunity led to the outcome you desire. Would you feel amazing or would you feel like something is “off?”

If the answer is you would feel fan-freaking-tastic, then chances are your ego is just holding you back because it is scared to move ahead.

And in that case, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate those fears:

1. Take baby steps.

If your dream is to open your own business and you are still in college or you have a full-time job, consider starting the business on the side. Allow yourself to learn, grow, and make progress on your business while still having the safety of your other occupation.

This allows you to gain confidence over time and gradually move to the point when you are ready to launch your business full-time.

Or if your vision is running a marathon, sign up for a 5k or half marathon to get yourself acclimated to training and race-day preparation. There’s no need to go 0 to 26.2 miles in one leap.

Incremental progress can get to where you want to go, naturally.

2. Do something else that scares you.

Sometimes doing something that you never imagined you could do – in a different area of your life – can give you the jolt of adrenaline necessary to take the leap and follow your other passions.

Perhaps you have a fear of heights and go to a trapeze class. Even though you are scared, you can go ahead and take the leap – literally.

Boosting your confidence regarding a long held fear, like heights, can loosen your ego’s hold on the fears it has towards online dating or changing careers, for example.

3. Join a group.

When it comes to stepping out in a new area, consider joining a group or club to connect with others with the same passions and goals.

It can be easier to learn Spanish in a group or class that studying on your own.

If your going to be a first time mom, try googling for local programs geared towards having your first child.

And if all else fails, consider starting a group of your own! Sites like can help get the word out about your foodie group and help you to meet with similar culinary interests.

4. Ask for help.

Last but not least, consider reaching out to others and asking for help.

For those in college with a new career goal, it is often easy to find alumni mentors by reaching out to people in the area of your interest who went to your school. The mentor may be able to educate you on what the industry is like and how to succeed in tangible ways.

Or, consider reaching out to those you admire who have reached some level of mastery and let them know that you are eager to learn in any way that you can. Assistantships can be amazing door openers, especially in creative fields.

If your mission is to get your finances back on track or eat more naturally, consider reaching out to someone professionally (or find a relevant book or program) who might be able to guide your next steps.

No matter what your “yes” is to, there is a way to get there if you start right where you are, use what you have, and just keep going.

This post was contributed by Jess Lively, a consultant and blogger helping people design lives, homes, and businesses with intention on and

Brianna Cook