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Yes (Wo)Man

 “The world’s a playground. You know that when you are a kid, but somewhere along the way everyone forgets it.” – Allison in Yes Man

Last week, I finally got to see Yes Man, the romantic comedy starring Jim Carrey. I remember the hulabaloo around the coaching community when this movie came out, praising it for the message it sent: say Yes to everything! Yes to party invites from the nerdy boss! Yes to mail-order wives! Yes to giving homeless men rides to deserted parks at night! Personal safety aside, I know that the overall message resonated with a lot of people. While I’m still someone who’s learning how to say “No” —without feeling like I’m disappointing the world/being an asshole—what I got from the movie is to say “Yes” to something new: to expand your horizons, meet new people, do something scary.

But there was another message in that movie that I haven’t heard anyone talk about, and that’s the part that still has me thinking two weeks later: the life that Zooey Deschanel’s character, Allison, created for herself. Every morning at 6a, Allion heads a running photography group for “photographers who want to get more exercise”. Then, most nights, she performs as the lead singer of Munchausen by Proxy, whose shows always begin with Allison greeting everyone in the audience by name – since the only people that come see the band are people the band knows personally. She then sings (awesome) songs with lyrics like “Don’t call me past 11pm, it won’t happen again. Happened once, it happened twice, it happened three times, maybe four times, maybe five times, maybe, maybe it happened six times, but it won’t happen seven times” and dons at least a half-dozen (but not seven) sparkly, colorful, funnily crazy costumes.

At one point, Jim Carrey’s character asks Allison why she sings with the band, and why she takes her photographs. Isn’t she looking for fame? Doesn’t she want her band to break through? And I remember her looking at him partly like he was nuts, and partly like he was a child. She explained that she sings with her band because she loves singing, loves performing, loves changing her costume a half dozen times and putting on a show for her friends. And even though most of her running club photographs are out of focus, she regales herself as an expert on blurry photography.

So do ya think that you can cook your passions into one big pot and make a career? Do all of your hobbies need to be money-makers, or is there something that you can do just for the love of it? If you’re missing something in your life, like more exercise, is there a way to do it so that it doesn’t feel like a chore? Think outside the box and see where your imagination takes you - the more ridiculous the better. Take your inspiration from Allison and her songs about late-night booty calls. Or pick up Career Renegades by Jonathan Fields and read about people like Ann Rea, an office drone who was determined to leave her depressing job to be a painter but didn’t want to give up her lifestyle. Living in the Napa Valley, she looked around, opened her eyes, and realized she could partner up with wineries to paint their vineyards, and then sell her works in their gift shop. Not only did she get a guaranteed sale for each painting she painted, but it lead to private commissions, large-scale commission work, displays, notecards, and wine bottle labels. 

Obviously, this movie is in Ideal World and we never know how Allison actually, um, puts a roof over her head and adorable vintage clothes on her person. But just think about adding a pinch of hobby A and a dash of goal B and a swirl of passion C, and making that into your life. Think of what you love to do, and a need that’s out there, and make your own sandwich. Allison took everyone’s goal of “getting more exercise” and paired it with her passion of photography, and created a running photography class. She has her nights free for singing and performing, just for the love of it. She might be a freakin’ garbage woman during the day, but you’d never know it from the way she lives her life—by her passions.