I'm a Shonda Rhimes fan. I've watched Grey's Anatomy very nearly since the beginning. I've grown up with her characters, and by proxy, her. When she released Year of Yes it was the one book I've actually pre-ordered since Deathly Hallows pt. 2

As a quick summary—

In 2013 Rhimes had a moment of realization—she was afraid. She was afraid of a lot of things— rejection, embarrassment, loneliness, being real with herself, the list could go on. Instead of facing those fears, she spent much of her life saying no to things, everything from public speaking opportunities to the idea of self-care. And, this is a thing she dealt with even after she owned Thursday night TV and could create or ruin you in Hollywood.

After talking with her sister at Thanksgiving (a conversation Rhimes did not see coming) she dared herself to say yes whenever an opportunity arose that scared her. Whether it was an appearance she normally wouldn’t do or having a hard conversation with a friend, Rhimes promised herself she would say yes. This ultimately led to a year that she never could have seen coming.   

In 2016, I read Year of Yes while running on the treadmill in the dead of winter. The main points I took away from the book were guiding points throughout my first year at work, contributed to a year I never could have seen coming, and continue to fuel me to take chances. 

1.Stop dreaming, start doing.

“Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral. Pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen.”
Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

As I got closer to graduation there were times where it would have been so easy to get caught up in what my dream path, or even salary, needed to look like. I knew people in my graduating class that turned down jobs without backup offer because the salary wasn’t what they wanted. I took the job at my internship because it was money and allowed me to get varied experience. I could have come up with a ton of reasons to look somewhere else. But, within the course of my first year, I got two promotions and got to do things I would have never dreamt of as someone “just starting out”. I love the team I work with, love the things I get to do, and am so thankful I didn’t get stuck on waiting for my “dream job”.

2.Own it.   

“Badassery: 1. (noun) the practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments and gifts and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts; 2. (noun) the practice of living life with swagger : SWAGGER (noun or verb) a state of being that involves loving oneself, waking up “like this” and not giving a crap what anyone else thinks about you. Term first coined by William Shakespeare.” Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

I tested the waters of this concept in 2016, and it has become my mantra for 2017. I could write a book on all the reasons why people find it difficult to accept a compliment or to even talk about themselves in a confident manner. But, something happens when you start embracing the things that set you apart. The swagger develops and you start to take my risks, do more things, which opens yourself up to more rewards.

This is quite possibly the biggest lesson I'm still learning. In less than a year, I have gone from working part time to having the responsibility of making the organization run. I answer directly to the owner of the company, but am being continuously told to make the decisions and that in the end, the success or failure of the organization is my responsibility because he has a completely separate company requiring his attention. I simply need to own the respect, responsibility, and all the other pieces that come with my new role. 

3.You can (and should) say no sometimes. Because it’s yes to something else.

“So, I decide to treat saying no in the same way I treat saying thank you. Say no and then don't say anything else.”― Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Because I work at a startup, I get to do all the things at work, and I love it. But, last fall, me getting to do all the things, meant pulling 60+hour work weeks leading up to a pre-paid vacay(read as:I would have canceled if I could. I spent a good amount of time on that trip working anyway.) that got cut short for a work trip. By the time I got back, I was so sick I slept through I meeting I didn’t remember having on the calendar until the day after the meeting occurred. I stayed sick for weeks. It was a painful reminder that self-care is vital.

Thankfully, my boss is a big advocate for self-care and work-life balance. We’ve worked together enough that he can tell when I start to overload myself and he’ll check in with me. Some may argue that it’s not his job to look out for things that, other may say that’s the sign of a good manager. I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m thankful that learning to say no and delegate is a part of my professional development plan, it will allow me to further excel at the things I’m really awesome at and take time to learn things that truly hold my interest.

Rhimes' experiment of saying yes was for a year, and I devoured the insights she learned in less than a week. But putting that into practice is a continuous process of trying new things, stepping up, and knowing when to step back.