The value of no

I have been wrestling with a hard decision: to say yes or no to starting a new media venture with two terrific business-women friends. 

Actually, I said yes 6 months ago. We’ve been meeting monthly since then... and we haven’t gotten the project off the ground. This has given me time for second thoughts. I already have a lot going on! For example, in the past 6 months I’ve added two wonderful new associates to my practice and opened a second location. I’m enthusiastically committed to my clients and my business life, and in the mood to savor the growth we’ve already made, rather than expand into yet more new territory. In my personal world, I’m feeling drawn to a simpler life. My priorities are veering away from more new commitments towards joy, happiness and gratitude for what I have! 

I’m seeing the value of “no.” 

Shonda Rhimes’ popular 2015 book, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person and many other books and articles shine a light on the value of saying yes. It can be a great thing! But saying no is really good, too.

In the case of this new venture, upon careful contemplation, I discovered that I truly wanted to say no. But I had felt held back because: I admire these women; I had previously committed; I don’t want to let THEM down; the venture is very cool, and it made my self-image snazzier. But I’ve decided I’m just fine the way I am; I don’t want to let MYSELF down; and ultimately I don’t want to be doing something out of duty, but out of choice. 

I decided to say “no.” I’m choosing to have a less busy life. I’m prepared to accept that my identity isn’t connected to overdoing. I’m choosing to live out of a place of groundedness. I’ll be fine if I don’t over-function and stretch myself thin.

A Chinese proverb says, “Tension is what you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”

I’m saying no to get the bigger yes!

I’ve wanted more emotional and logistical space in my life for years! My worth is not about what I do. It’s about who I am. It’s not about checking off projects and roles; I can become more of the person I want to be by doing less. Maybe that’s where the wisdom is. I’m giving myself permission to make choices that bring me joy. 

The wisdom is right there.