It’s not a word we like to hear all that much.
It means someone disagrees with us, isn’t giving us what we want, or is somehow otherwise operating as an obstacle in our way.
That’s much more pleasant. Has a certain ring to it. Gives me those warm and fuzzy feelings.
“Yes” makes life so much easier.
Or does it?
I’ve come to realize that the word “no” has had a profound impact on my life for the better.
And I want to share with you readers today just what that has done for me and how I’ve come to see the word “no” as far more powerful, helpful, and useful than “yes”.
Being Told No
It was March 2009.
I was scraping by with my ~$30,000/year job at a car dealership in the Metro Detroit area.
It was another cold, hard, long winter in Southeast Michigan.
Spring was on its way, though. And I was excited about that.
My boss called me in his office one day that March.
And he delivered, essentially, a massive “no”. This word, especially its delivery at that particular time and in that particular manner, would shape the rest of my life.
He told me “no” to being employed there any longer.
That meant “no” to income. “no” to a paycheck for the foreseeable future (especially considering the condition of the auto industry in Metro Detroit at that time). That was a “no” to my ability to comfortably afford shelter, buy food, cover my debts, and more or less live my life.
This opened my eyes to just what kind of power an employer had over me at that time.
I suddenly found myself a broke, unemployed, college dropout.
That (former) employer could, with one “no”, ruin my entire life.
Saying No To That
Well, I decided to say “no” to someone else having such power over my life, my freedom, and my money.
It was time to say “no” to someone else’s ability to tell me “no”.
This led me to marching toward financial freedom. The only way I could say “no” to allowing that word to have such a negative affect on my life, was to put myself in total control of my money and time.
I had to be completely free. And I had to control my money in order to control my time, which I knew would eventually lead to the total financial and life freedom I needed.
Of course, that led to a magical and winding road to where I’m now at.
And I’m now 36 years old, financially free, and living the life of my dreams as a dividend expat in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
I’m able to live off of the five-figure and growing dividend income my FIRE Fund generates on my behalf.
The story might seem to end there, but it’s actually just beginning as it relates to the power of “no” and how it’s radically transformed my life.
The Ability To Say No To Others
This is where the real value of “no” comes in.
Being financially independent means you can say “no” to just about anything and anyone you wish.
I’ve found an incredible amount of life-changing value in this ability.
See, proper allocation of resources, which obviously includes our money and time, is such an important aspect of being successful and happy in life.
In order to properly allocate those resources, we must be careful and diligent when it comes to putting one dollar or one minute of our time into anything.
When we allocate resources, we’re investing. You can invest in businesses, people, moments, opportunities, and just about anything.
And just like it’s important to be efficient and intelligent at allocating capital in investments, it’s also important to be efficient and important at allocating our time, energy, focus, experience, and skills.
In fact, it’s arguably far more important to properly allocate your non-financial resources.
We must be very thoughtful about considering our opportunity cost. Allocating resources toward situations that aren’t clearly advantageous means we’re missing out on the almost infinite number of other opportunities out there that would clearly be better for us in one way or another.
When you’re not in a position of power (i.e., you’re not financially independent), and you’re not able to say “no” any time you’d like, you’re instead forced to say “yes” to just about everything that comes your way.
A job you don’t really want?
A city you’d rather not live in?
A significant other you’d rather not be with?
A life position that doesn’t really make you happy?
Not being able to say “no” leaves “yes” as the only other available option. Personal happiness and fulfillment doesn’t even enter the equation.
If I could point to one of the aspects of my lifestyle I cherish the most, it’s the ability to say “no”.
A significant other I’m not completely thrilled to spend time with?
A writing opportunity that isn’t in line with my vision of content?
A city I’m not happy to live in?
Being able to say “no” is so powerful. And I feel powerful whenever I have to break out that “veto card” in my own life to strike something down.
It’s like I’m able to make the rules, and remake the rules, as I see fit. It’s truly wonderful.
My ability to live an early retirement dream life in Thailand is only possible because I said “no” to everything and everywhere else (including the USA). And if any aspect of my life stops being what I want it to be, I’ll say “no” to it. Anything that doesn’t make me happy and add to my quality of life gets a pretty swift rejection.
There is no need to fear the word “no” when you’re the one in control of it. It’s not a word to cowardly fear. It’s a word to courageously wield.
I can say “no” a million times. Saying “yes”, however, commits me to that action. I try to keep this in mind when faced with any choice.
Hearing the word “no” is always a bummer.
And it was never a bigger disappointment for me than when I heard it in the spring of 2009. Hearing that word as it related to my job, income, and very life meant I was in a for a world of change.
Of course, that change was exactly the catalyst I needed to empower myself.
That led to the ultimate form of empowerment: FIRE.
Empowerment means I no longer have to worry about being told “no”.
Instead, I’m the one who’s able to say that word when an opportunity or situation isn’t totally in line with who I am and what makes me happy.
Being able to break this word out at will is like having a superpower.
And it’s just one of the many benefits of FIRE.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where “yes” is the only option to say or hear.
Realize the power of “no”, both in terms of hearing and saying it.
Put yourself in control. Consider your opportunity costs with every financial and non-financial investment.
Life is way too short to rely on “yes” all the time.
What do you think? Has “no” changed your life? Are you FIRE? Are you now able to say “no” to financial and non-financial investments that don’t make sense for you?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
P.S. If you’d like to achieve FIRE, which would give you total control over “no” in your life, check out some fantastic resources that I personally used on my way to becoming financially free at 33!