Find the Power of Your Next "No"

I said “no” twice this week to two professional invitations, which went against everything I’ve ever been taught.

These two invites were to join in on events that I would have said “yes” to any other time. But, after careful consideration, I realized they were not aligned with my bigger vision for the next phase of my career. They were opportunities for the “old me” not for where the “new me” is headed.

After I sent the polite emails declining these offers, I braced for a backlash, or a slide into regret, or at least a little pining for some possibly missed opportunity.

But instead, something amazing happened. Instead of mild remorse, I felt a surge of energy and focus for the one project I’m saying “yes” to. Saying “no” cleared away psychic space. Not only did I not have to take on two new projects I didn't want to do, but I also tapped a well of strength and focus for what I do want to do.

What do you need to say “no” to this week? What invitations are for “old” opportunities based on work you used to do but are not growing toward right now?

I found it hard to say “no.” I hemmed and hawed, I pussy-footed and beat around the bush until I had to make a decision. One thing that really helped: right before I pressed “send” on the emails to decline these offers, I imagined saying “no” and noticed that I felt energized, excited and a little scared. Then, I imagined saying “yes” and noticed how I felt constricted and low energy. That gave me my answer. What I didn’t account for was the new energy I would find by saying “no.”

Try this: Think about an invitation you have in your inbox right now. Imagine saying “no.” How does it feel in your body? Now, imagine saying “yes.” How does that feel in your body?

You have your answer. Go forth and say “no." Find the power of a bigger “yes.” Let your “no” ignite the project that matters most. 

Head, by Pavel Filonov. This pencil on paper portrait was started in 1918 and completed in 1923, 15 x 10 cm, Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. This artwork is in the public domain.