Why saying no leads to success

Jessica Zimmerman | Business Blog | Why Saying No Leads to Success

I was working out with my trainer yesterday (I'm trying to take better care of myself and get some energy to keep up with my three kids and they say after a while I'll start to enjoy it, still waiting on that!) and she said to me, "My fiance isn't loving his job and he asked me how I was able to land my dream job and I told him I'm one of the lucky ones."

I asked her what she meant by that and she said, “Well one day I realized I no longer wanted the job I was in. I quit. I went to the grocery store, the same grocery store I had been going to for years and for the first time I noticed the gym across the street. I had never noticed it before! I called and asked if they were hiring and I landed this job a few days later. I’m super lucky.” 

I said, “I don’t think you were lucky.”

She looked at me confused.

I (in a breathless voice because she has me on a rowing machine) said, “You never noticed this gym until that day because there wasn’t room in your life to notice it. When you finally said no and closed the door to a job you hated, then and only then was there room in your life for a new door to open. You have to say no to some things in order to make room in your life for the better yes opportunities.” 

It has nothing to do with luck and it has everything to do with intention. Saying no to something can be scary. We often think, “I’ll say no to this if I know the yes opportunity is right around the corner.” But that’s not how it works. 

There is a quote by Warren Buffet, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.

Think about that for a minute. 

I don't feel bad about saying no to something. I am unapologetic about staying laser focused on my goals and my own priorities. This is why it’s so important for me to list my boundaries and priorities each year. It allows me to make easy decisions. Let me give you a few examples:

  • In 2016 I made a decision that I wasn’t going to do any weddings under $5K. I received an inquiry for an October date for $4K. I didn’t have anything booked for any dates in October and the fear inside of not booking anything wanted to say yes to this person, but I remembered my boundaries and I stayed true to them. I declined working on that wedding. Three weeks later, I received an inquiry for that same date for my first six figure wedding.
  • In 2017 I received an inquiry for a wedding in June and they said their budget was $4K. June is one of our two busiest months of the year so our minimum is highest during those two months (think of it like a vacation rental has a high season and a low season). We emailed back and very nicely explained that June was one of our two most demanding months and because of this we would have to say no to the $4K budget, but if they were willing to raise their budget, we would be happy to meet with them. Guess what? They raised it.
  • I make a rule each year to not work the months of July and December. I also have a rule not to take on any client work during the month of November because this is my annual planning month. Last year, I received a call out of the blue from Holly Chapple asking me if Brian and I would like to come stay on her beautiful flower farm for a few days and spend some time with her. YES! Because I had stayed true and said no to all November inquiries, I had room to say yes to this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The truth is you don’t have time to do everything, no matter how much you want to believe you do. You do, however, have time to do what matters most to you. When you say no to someone asking you to help them with a specific project or attend an event or donate to their event, this doesn’t make you a bad person and it definitely isn’t something you should beat yourself up over. Saying no to all the things that don’t get you closer to your own goals is the only way there will ever be a way for you to say yes to the things that matter most to you.