Saying no is a powerful choice and the more you practice it, the better you’ll be at aligning yourself with your goals and purpose. But it ain’t easy, especially for someone like me who grew up in a dysfunctional family and became a people pleaser. I had to let go of fear. I used to be afraid that if I said no, no one would ask me again for anything, or I’d let an opportunity pass me by. At the time, I didn’t realize that I’m letting in MORE opportunity by saying no, which allows space for the things that matter.
I’ve also found that the act of letting go is a form of no, which can ultimately lead to us closer to what we want. I asked one of my first writing teachers, Dr. Elaine Neil Orr, author of A Different Sun and Gods of Noon Day, how she got to be so good at saying no. She told me that as a double transplantee, she doesn’t have the luxury of time doing things that take her away from her writing. Dr. Orr is the master of saying no with gentility!
Saying no means
Telling folks who want to pick your brain over a cup of coffee that they can consult with you for free … as long as they pay $250 for the coffee.
Getting rid of colleagues, clients and friends who complain, use more than they give, waste your time by being late, or are generally unreliable. This isn’t fun to say no to them, especially if you’ve had a great time with them in the past. Say, “It worked for me in the past, but it doesn’t work for me now.”
Not ever working with clients who want the lowest price and want the work done fast. Tell them to go elsewhere—you don’t need the stress and grief. Early in my editing/writing career, I took on any job that moved because I was afraid I’d be broke if I didn’t. This is bad thinking which only hurts you in the long run. If you say yes to these clients you’re pulling time away from your real clients, as well as your meditation, creative, exercise and relaxation time. All of this creative time is so important because when you do it, you’re giving love back to yourself. So if that’s true, working with clients that aren’t worth your time for a few bucks means you don’t value yourself. AHA!
Once I had my AHA moment, I realized I wasn’t charging enough for my editing and writing services because I didn’t value myself or my work. I was letting my past decide my future. Yes, it’s hard to grow up in a family that puts limits on you, says you’ll lose opportunity if you don’t say yes (that’s the Fear of Missing Out Syndrome talking) and says, “Entrepreneurs go broke,” but that’s not my story anymore. I needed to create a new story and a new frame of reference. I am worth it!
It is scary to raise your prices and pull yourself up to a new level of clients while waving goodbye to old faithfuls, who want you to stay the same and who don’t want to invest the money in themselves. You can’t remain at a level that leaves you frustrated and resentful. Sometimes we use busyness and volunteer activities as a way so others can see how busy we are or as a way to procrastinate from performing the real creative work or deep thinking. I’ve been guilty of that!
I’m not saying don’t perform services gratis or volunteer your time; I’m saying do these acts of service with intention within your business plan, so that when you’re done you feel abundant, not depleted and bitter.
Saying no and letting go is another step on your Hero’s Journey—you’re walking from the known world to the unknown. For example, this week I had my mind set on getting a new Taylor guitar, a significant upgrade from the guitar I have. Without having the funds to purchase this dream guitar, I decided to sell my old one, thinking that “letting go” will manifest me a new guitar! Shortly after I posted my ad on Craigslist, I got a new client who sent me a check for the exact amount I needed for the guitar. And a few days after I posted the guitar, my guitar teacher sold my guitar to one of her students. That same night, I scoured Craigslist again and found the Taylor guitar I wanted and I bought it the next day after the seller replied. Yay! I’ve learned that following through on your letting go will start the manifestation process. Good stuff!
Saying no means you have the necessary faith to reach the audience you’re meant to reach. But you won’t get to that audience if you don’t say goodbye first.