We hear from highly successful people all the time that we, as entrepreneurs, need to say “no” more than we need to say “yes.” 

That is interesting advice isn’t it? I know when I read that and think of how I can apply it to my business I have a number of thoughts, questions and fears come up.

  • What if I say no to an event that could lead to that one person who needs my services and has the money to pay?
  • What if I say not to a person who is toxic and it blows up in my face? 
  • What if I say no to a service swap and that swap could have led to something else bigger? 
  • What if I say no to a potential client who isn’t really easy to work with but I need the money? 
  • What if I say no too many times and I get a bad reputation? 
  • What if I say no to the “big one” and I never get another chance? 

Yeah, those may be things you have thought of and seriously think about now. Saying no takes a lot of guts, and wisdom, and risk. When you practice saying no, you have to rely on your gut instinct, your intuition, your success plan to lead you, your strength, your ability to say no without regret. 

When you make a decision and you hope for the best results for that decision, do you begin to regret that decision? 

Many people fall into the spiral of regret, even professionally, because of the fear of the unknown. Because of not trusting your decision. Because of not having control over the outcome. Whatever your reason; it can be difficult to trust your choice to say no. 

How can you begin trusting yourself and say no without feeling regret?

Well, here is the thing: Feeling any emotion is not a bad thing. If you feel a bit of regret, ask yourself why the feelings have surfaced. These emotions coming up means you have something you need to acknowledge. 

I am sure you are wondering why I wrote saying no without regret if having regrets is okay. And I am going to tell you that you will want to read the last paragraph again. You see, experiencing regrets when making a decision is often commonplace. The key is to not have regrets for your decision to say no. You have to look at what is causing you to feel regret and then work backwards to remove the feelings of regret while you are saying no. You will find that it is not the actual saying NO that causes the regret, it is the ‘baggage’ others place on you while you are telling them no. After a while, you become used to having other peoples baggage make saying no difficult or extremely aggravating to the point you won’t say no. 

And that is what they want, you to feel so bad that you won’t say no. 

And that is when you begin to get frustrated and angry and feeling less than perfect because of the stress wearing your body and mind down. Then you continue to say yes when you mean no… and the cycle we all know well continues. 

Here is a definition or two of regret (it is interesting to say the least)

verb: To feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).
“She immediately regretted her words”

noun: A feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.
“She expressed her regret at Virginia’s death”

These definitions – verb and noun – do not say that as a part of your decision to make a decision to say no that regret has to be a part of the results. Here is a critical part of the definition you may have missed; feeling sad, repentant or disappointed over a missed opportunity.

If you are honest with yourself, it is not a missed opportunity but in fact a decision to not participate or choose that decision. You made an active decision to move past this choice and choose something or possibly nothing else. 

For many, that is a huge shift they need to acknowledge and remember. And do more often. Build up the strength of your saying no muscle. 

How do you build up this “Saying No Muscle”? 

When I talk about saying no without regret, it is something that I still work on, as do most people. I don’t feel like I am feeling left out. I don’t like missing out on something great. I don’t want to ‘regret’ my decisions. And you know what, sometimes I do. 

But I have to look at why I made that decision. Why I chose to go or not go? Why I chose to say no. What motivated me to say no? What was my reason? 

If I can make certain my reasons are valid and true reasons, I am better able to say no with confidence that I am making this decision as it is what is best for me rather than what I am running from – person or task. I look at a number of things when I feel regret for saying no. Here is the quick but not all inclusive list… you may find yours is very different than mine… and that is a good thing as we are all very different and have a number of differences I will write out the answers so I know that I am making a good decision for ME. 

  1.  What is the first reason that comes to my heart and mind that I have for saying no? 
  2.  What conflict between my heart and mind exist that makes me feel like I am regretting, missing out, or running away from a person or situation? 
  3. What messages are popping into my head (subconscious) that are making me second guess my decision? 
  4. What alternatives do I have to say to this person, event or task? 
  5. How much negative energy will I experience doing this task, going to the event or seeing the person? 
  6. What are the benefits for saying no? 
  7. How would things have changed if I said yes instead of no? Would those changes be positive? 
  8. Am I comfortable enough to change my mind and say yes next time? 

Depending on the answers, I learned that I can say no with confidence. I can say no with certainty. I can say no without guilt. I can say no without regret. I can say no with the understanding that I am saying no first and foremost for me and what I need. I can say no with the understanding that if I should have said yes, there is always room to change my mind. 

When the answers indicate that maybe my decision to say no was completely emotional and I was hoping to punish myself and others by saying no, you know letting my fears dictate my decisions… feeling depressed… unwanted or whatever else that the subconscious mind throws up at the time we make a decision… then I know that I regret my decision because it wasn’t the best decision for me. 

What this allows is for me to look at each situation where I am thinking of saying no as objectively as possible. That I can say no with all the information possible. That I can say no with all the information possible and if I realize that I am wanting to say no because I feel ‘scared’ of saying yes or resentful for saying yes… then I can look at why that is and work on those reasons. 

Once I take care of the baggage that is making me regret my decision to say no… I find I trust myself more to make the right decisions and do so without feeling regret. It doesn’t mean I always make the right decision or spend time wondering before saying no if it is the right decision… but it gives me the confidence each time to make more decisions that end up with a no that assesses what will work for me. 

The best part of it all, the more I say no to those things that do not work for me, the more good things that do work for me come my way. And who can have regrets when that happens. 

Go forth and say no without regret!