In my previous post I talked about how, after being fired, I found myself with a world of opportunities to explore. Too many opportunities, in fact. It’s been always hard for me to say no. This has nothing to do with saying no to others, but with the ability to say no to yourself.
Thus, my initial impulse was committing to all these projects. Fortunately, during these last months, I have learned to interpret the signs. And so I have decided to focus on just a small number of projects I am really passionate about and can commit to.
In this article, I would like to share my thoughts on the benefits of learning to let go some stuff in your life to focus on the things that really matter.
It Is Hard To Say No… But Harder To Say No To Yourself
A lot has been written about why it is so hard for us to say no. All these articles, however, seem to focus on us being incapable of saying “No” to others when asked to do something.
Typical reasons cited include fear of being rejected, of losing opportunities, of confrontation, etcetera. All these reasons seem to mostly focus on our relationships with other people. Thus, the difficulty in saying “no” lies in how it will affect our social interactions.
However, for me, the problem is precisely the contrary. I struggle to give up on the projects I work on, even when it’s clear they are going nowhere. Also, I find it extremely hard to say “no” to new opportunities, even when I know that I won’t be able to commit to them.
I suspect that this is definitely related to the fact that I am a micropreneur. The entrepreneurship mindset is always vulnerable to the Shiny Object Syndrome. Sometimes, the desire to pursue a new, exciting opportunity makes us forget the work and effort we are putting in our current projects.
Micropreneurs also have this need to prove themselves that they can do anything they want. In fact, it’s in our DNA. We find it hard to delegate and let others take over some parts of our business.
That’s quite a dangerous combination.
Learning To Say No To Yourself
This inability to say no to yourself certainly has an impact on your life. It easily leads you to commit to more than you can handle. Eventually, you find yourself overloaded with work and responsibilities, wondering how you got into that situation.
I used to be that guy. Feeling that I didn’t have time for anything, and wishing there were 48 hours in a day. Even now, when presented with a new opportunity, I still have this urge to say yes.
However, I am slowly learning to identify those situations and approach them differently. Of course, this requires a conscious effort from you.
The turning point for me was asking myself: “Do I really need this?”, and then, “What would be the worst thing that could happen if I say no?”. Most of the times, you realize that the answer is “No”, and “Nothing”.
Less Is More
When you start saying no to yourself, you experiment a feeling of liberation.
With just a simple “no”, you free yourself from stuff that might prevent you from focusing on the staff that really matters.
I’m not saying that you should say “no” to every new opportunity. Nevertheless, you need to stop for a moment and consider what’s important in your life, what projects you are really passionate about. Those are the ones where you should put your focus and energy. Let go the rest.
I want to propose you an experiment. During the next seven days, evaluate what you are really passionate about in your life, right now. Refuse to accept anything you might want to get into. New job opportunities, personal projects, relationships… say “no” to those.
Instead, focus on your current projects, but not all. Only those that are currently bringing joy in your life. Focus on what you are passionate about, and ditch the rest. Minimize the things that are wasting your time, and use that time to do what you really love.
After that week, take a moment to think about your feelings and how learning to say no to yourself has changed you.
Share Your Thoughts
In this article, I shared some of my thoughts on how hard it is to say no to yourself, but why it is so important to do so. Have you experienced the same feelings? Do you find it hard to say no to yourself too? Let us know in the comments.