I’m a people pleaser. It’s hard for me to say "no" to people who ask for something -- despite a reluctance inside of me. This has gotten me into trouble more than a few times in life and especially in business. Time is precious and slips by quickly but there is also no lack of things that have to get done in an entrepreneur's life.
For 12 years, I took life a day at a time. I had a dream but no goals for making it real. I just woke up each day hoping for something more. In 2011, I had had enough and began chasing my dream of starting a lifestyle business. This meant more work on top of a service business that took 60-80 hours of my week. It didn’t take long for me to realize that something had to give. I had to learn how to say no to open up room for the things that were important. Seeing how much time and energy was freed by saying no, I started looking at all the other areas of my life. Here are six things I said no to. Saying no helped me live a much better life and create the kind of business that I love.
1. Other people’s baggage.
Life is hard for all of us. Sometimes it’s easier to push your baggage onto someone else, maybe even without you realizing it. If you are trying to make changes in your life and someone reacts a certain way because of their baggage, it’s up to you to say "no". You don’t need any more drama in your life. For me, this meant ignoring some people on social media and purging negative people from my life. It meant ending the business partnerships that were not in alignment with the direction I was taking my business.
2. Situations that I knew would make me angry.
There are things in life that you know you don’t want to do. For years, I just rolled with it. I went to gatherings and hung out with people who I knew would make me angry. I got on "get-to-know-you" calls with entrepreneurs who were all talk and no action. I entered into collaborations with business owners that weren't serious. When I said enough and stopped, it felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. It freed my mind and business and helped me focus.
3. A business that I absolutely hated.
I had a service business in the vendor industry for 12 years and hated it. I felt stuck and believed that someone like me -- a high school dropout -- couldn’t do better. In 2011, I said "no" more and worked hard for four years to make my dream of being a global lifestyle entrepreneur a reality. I now wake up loving what I get to do for work and traveling the world. Saing no led to happier days.
4. Unhealthy habits that felt good.
I love food. I said yes to junk food and no to healthier choices. This, as you can imagine, led to major weight gain. At one point, I was 193 pounds overweight. I started saying no to unhealthy choices and started exercising, I've lost 121 pounds so far this year. Today, I have more energy, focus and confidence. Life is better. I wake up ready to work on my business. I feel great when I travel for consulting presentations at multinational corporations.
5. Toxic relationships.
Purging negative people from my life and saying no to what they tried to project into my life led to relief and happiness. These relationships included romantic relationships, friendships and business connections. It was hard, but I had to say no. Toxic people will keep you off track and make your life unenjoyable. Purge negativity from your life and business whenever it’s possible.
6. Holding onto the past.
I had a messed up childhood that involved physical and mental abuse. I chose to be homeless at 17 instead of continuing to be beaten with lamp cords. The demons from my past threatened to destroy me as I grew into an adult. I had to let go. I had to say no a lot more. I had to forgive to begin the healing process. I don’t know what you have or are facing. I do know that to heal, you have to let go.
Just because you’re saying no right now doesn’t mean you’ll have to say no forever. Life has seasons, and some are busier than others. The point is to make sure you’re doing the things you want to do and that lead to the kind of life and business you want.
Don’t let other people’s motives make decisions for you. This is your life. This is your business. You get to decide. Say no to things that don’t make sense for you. Say no to things that don’t feel right to you. Trust your intuition. You know whether or not you want to do something. Don’t be pressured into saying yes.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors