How To Find Your Nope (And Why You Need It)

When I first started in business I didn't have a no. I was a people pleaser. I used to pride myself on that... I even made it one of my selling points for a long time - I can do anything you need! One stop shop! Send me your tired, your weary, your poorly built site that crashes every time I touch it!

That didn't work out so well.

If I'm being honest I continued forgetting my no for way too long. Years after I had started my business I would take on jobs and clients that felt wrong to me. I said yes to every job because I was afraid if I didn't I would never get another one.

As a result I ended up resenting some of the work I was doing and I worked for clients who saw me as a pixel pusher instead of someone who has spent years learning my trade. I had great clients too, and was growing a loyal group of cheerleaders, but part of me still worried that if I said no to those clients who weren't a good fit I would somehow tank my business.

Now, I'm clearly not an expert here. There are plenty of people who found their no faster than I did. And it's something I still struggle with occasionally. But I've come a long long way since those early days, and it's had everything to do with shifting my own mindset.

Here are a few tricks and mindset shifts I use when an opportunity comes my way these days. Take what works for you and implement it in your own life, business, and pursuit of happiness.

Come at me from a place of abundance, bro.

Being an entrepreneur can be scary, and it's easy to find yourself operating from a scarcity mindset (what if I never get another client?) instead of an abundance mindset (I have everything I need within me). Scarcity is clinging to something because you're afraid of losing it or never finding another one - whether it's a relationship, a project, or a sweater that doesn't quite fit anymore. It's perceived value stemming from fear, instead of actual value based on what the object means to us. And all of us do it at some point in time. 

Here's the thing about that scarcity mindset though... what you focus on is what you create. Your brain is so focused on not losing that project that you can't see the forest for the metaphorical trees. You're sending out energy that's telling your nervous system, the universe, and anyone else that will listen "Hey. We're desperate. We'll take your crap! Send it on! It's better than nothing!". 

Try to remember instead that the universe has your back, you're working your arse off, and you're worth it. 

Gut check yourself before you wreck yourself

Your gut almost always knows the right thing to do. You know that tightness in your stomach you get when you dread doing something? Or the excited butterflies you get when something great happens? You can use that to your advantage if you check in with it before saying yes. 

If you're unsure about an opportunity take some time to think it over. Stop, find a quiet place to check in with yourself, take a few slow deep breaths, and ask your body how it feels about moving forward. 

Another variation on this is to flip a coin. As the coin lands and your "decision" is made your gut will instantly tell you how you really feel about it. 

This takes some practice, but with time you'll learn to trust yourself more and more. Just remember that feeling fear about something doesn't mean it's a bad idea. Fear can be a good thing, especially if it's mixed with excitement. 

Gimmie a hell yes

I clearly only wrote this post for the section titles. Anywho. 

This article does a great job of explaining this insanely simple philosophy. The gist? You will intuitively respond to opportunities in one of three ways. Anything less than "Hell yes!!" isn't worth pursuing. Easy? No. Worth it? Hell yes. 

There are opportunities out there for everyone. Your no will be someone else's hell yes, and vice versa. 

Let it go, yo

Physical space is finite. It's limited. If you've ever watched Hoarders you know that filling your house with old newspapers and egg cartons severely limits your ability to have your family come visit for Thanksgiving. 

The same thing happens with time and energy. You only have so much of each. Spending it on projects and people who aren't a good fit severely limits your ability to focus on the things that bring you to life. 

The tricky part here is trust. Trust that something better is coming along. Trust that clearing out space in your schedule and grey matter will allow amazing things to happen. Trust that throwing out some of those metaphorical egg cartons will open up some space on the sofa for just the right person to sit down.

You can't always avoid doing things you don't really want to do. Sometimes you'll have to, at least for a little while when you're starting out. But looking back over my years as a self-employed adult (and my many years as a human) I can say that finally learning to say no to what isn't working has opened me up to so many more amazing things. 

Try it for yourself. Pick one of these ideas to start and put it to work in your own life. Be patient, change doesn't happen overnight. Then let me know how it goes!