The Year of No

I’m back in the game after nearly a month away, and damn — holidays are such a great opportunity.

Obviously you get to rest and have fun and build your energy back up, but you also get the time and mental space to reflect on your life and your work.

Holidays give you the distance you need to think objectively and to see things as they really are, not how they seem when you’re up in the thick of it.

And while I was traipsing around the Daintree Rainforest and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef (you can see some pics on my Insta here), I realised that there have been things I’ve been working on recently that I really don’t like.

Things that are so wrong for me that some days they make me want to stop working on my business altogether.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE writing.

I love working with clients who want to share their legacy with the world. I feel like the universe accidentally spilled a giant basket of gifts and blessings all over me that was meant to supply like, 12 people.

But even so, 2019 was a hard year, and I got tired, and scared, and had a hard time trusting myself. I let myself listen to the ‘shoulds’.

I should be taking more clients. I should be less choosy about projects. I should be making more money.

The shoulds burned me out, and in my anxiety I let things creep back into my working life that do not belong there.

Never-ending work days. Interactions that drain me. Poorly defined projects that are not in my zone of genius.

And then one of the very first emails I read when I got back from vacation this week was from Abbey Woodcock.

(If you don’t know Abbey, she’s a bad-ass and you should get on her email list. She’ll teach you very good stuff, especially if you’re a freelancer and you want to boost your business skills.)

Anyway, in her email, Abbey was sharing a clip of Lady Gaga, talking about how she was so unhappy that she nearly quit music.

“Why am I unhappy? Why is that I want to quit music? … I feel sad when I’m overworked and I just become a money-making machine, when my passion and my creativity take a back seat. That makes me unhappy.

I felt like the sun had come out overhead when I heard her say that. She articulated exactly what I had been feeling about my own work… and then she told me exactly what I needed to do.

“So what did I do? I started to say no… and slowly but surely I remembered who I am.”

HELL YES GAGA.

Saying no is so good. It’s so empowering and it very quickly moves you to saying yes — to the right things. The things that are so exciting to you that you can’t move fast enough to get them all done. The things that you get so immersed in that you don’t notice the time passing.

No gets you to yes.

So in 2020 I’m going to be saying no again, a lot more often. Not just to work that’s not right for me, but to my fears and the shoulds too.

I’ll be saying yes to projects with people who want to achieve something bigger for the world than just making money.

Yes to more fun. Yes to more rest. Yes to more meaning, more generosity, more action.

I hope you’ll join me in saying no to what doesn’t serve you this year. Schedule some time off, and let’s all get to yes together.