I walked away from a book contract. I said no, and finally let it go.
One of the hardest things we can ever do is say “no” to someone. In doing so, we tend to feel that we’re disappointing others or letting ourselves down, too. Possibly we will be missing out on something (FOMO) that we will regret later. And then comes the guilt. Did we make a mistake by declining a potential opportunity?
Saying “no” is never an easy path, but in some cases it’s the best option.
Recently, I declined a book contract. Though I was incredibly flattered to be approached by a publisher, thrilled to get great feedback on my first chapters and happy to receive a generous contract in response, I had to say, “no thank you.” And that was incredibly hard. It was something I never would’ve thought I’d do as an author, but it wasn’t a good fit.
I hadn’t realized that this was a common occurrence until I consulted with some of my fellow authors and discovered they too have said “no” many times before on contracts, speaking engagements, appearances and collaborations. “It’s smart business to say ‘no’ just as much or more than you say ‘yes,’” one of them explained.
Warren Buffett once said, “For every 100 great opportunities that are brought to me, I say ‘no’ 99 times.”
When we say “no” we go through a cycle of emotions that accompany this decision. But when you are able to let go of the emotions that hamper forward movement, you feel liberated and open to creative expression. When you become comfortable with saying “no” you are, in the words of coach Nancy Levin, “setting personal boundaries. If there’s one thing you need to understand, it’s this: disappointing someone else isn’t the end of the world.” In fact, it’s a healthy discernment of choosing what you want to participate in or step away from. And that decision is for the good of all. Setting boundaries, pairing the wise investments from the taxing ones and thoughtfully saying “no” isn’t easy, but as both Buffet and Levin know first-hand, it helps you make marked progress.
Develop for yourself a litmus test for saying “no” so you can move through the decision with ease and then design a forward moving follow up.
For example, if you feel your time, money or efforts won’t be worth the investment, you probably decline moving forward. That may be one of your determinant factors in choice. Then if you should decide to decline, what can you immediately turn your attention to so that rumination and regret don’t drain your energy.
As an author, writer, reader, business professional or stay-at-home mom, you have a long list of people, projects and activities that can positively fill your day. After saying “no” let go and focus on what is important to you. By doing so, any regret or what if’s will soon become distant memories.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”