What happens when you stop settling and start saying No to the work that doesn’t fit?

Uncomfortable topic alert: Yes, gorgeous, we’re gonna talk about money!

I grew up the daughter of first-generation New York Jewish parents. My grandparents were eastern Europeans who came to the U.S. in the 1920s; things had been very uncomfortable for Jews in their part of the world for a long time and were only getting worse.

My parents were young kids during the Depression and by the time they were raising me and my sisters, a mindset based in deprivation had taken a firm hold on them both. Deprivation—there’s never enough, there can never be enough. Accompanied by deprivation’s other half—entitlement. There’s never enough, there can never be enough, so I’d better grab anything I can get.

Believe me, growing up in New York, the children of immigrants, in the Depression, does not make for a healthy mindset and a lovinghearted relationship to money. Nor does it make for any kind of good example for your children (one of whom is me!).

A weird kind of frugality drove things in the household of my childhood. Cupboards were full of plastic containers (from Chinese take-out, of course), coupons were clipped so nickels and dimes could be saved, and when staples like tuna fish would be on sale at the supermarket, my mother would buy dozens of cans.

Seriously. There were stacks of tuna cans in the cabinets. And rows of jars of Hellmann’s mayonnaise. And mountains of six packs of Diet Coke.

The weird part? Mom and Dad would spend lots and lots of money eating out in fancy restaurants. And traveling. And then come home to the stacks of plastic containers and tuna fish cans.

What a perfect breeding ground for settling for anything that comes along

I learned how to settle, that I’d better take whatever was offered, at an early age, and it led me to some spectacularly stupid decisions (like getting married at age 18 because someone asked me, and what if that was the only proposal I was ever gonna get?, but that’s another story). Settling also led me to a long career of being buffeted about in my career, taking whatever jobs came my way, with little intention and less authenticity in my choices.

It took me years in my working life to even consider thinking about and naming how much I wanted to earn, how much I wanted to be paid. When I first started working, I would interview for a job or a freelance gig, and I would be told how much the job paid, and I would take it. I don’t think I ever turned down an offer (I’d better take what I can get, remember?). I don’t even remember countering an offer.

I’ve been in business for myself for over twenty years, and I’ve grown in so many ways around my rates and fees. And yet, I’m still uncovering many deprivation- and entitlement-induced blind spots. For example, It wasn’t until I learned about pricing resonance from Mark Silver that I actually began to have an intentional, direct, heart-based relationship with what I charge.

Another big one, for me, is abstaining from saying Yes to every offer of paying work that comes my way. In other words, learning to say No. No, thank you.

The gifts of saying No

Does this sound familiar to you? You’ve established your practice, you have created your messaging and your marketing materials to speak to and invite your ideal clients, you’ve created clear and juicy programs and products to serve them. And yet, when business is slow, when your practice is less than full, and a job comes along that doesn’t really fit, but that would bring in a little money, you say yes.

Or, you can’t resist going after a competitive bid project, one that you know is going to go to the lowest bidder. Seriously, if you spin your wheels chasing after every $500 contract that may or may not happen, aren’t you just throwing clutter in the way of attracting the business you want? Not to mention depleting your energy that you’ll want and need when you have the opportunity to work with the clients you’re meant to serve.

What would happen if you gently and lovingly and thoroughly released those old patterns of being at effect in the world, of being dependent on circumstances and people to dictate your actions, of having to settle for whatever you were offered? Yes, gorgeous one, I’m suggesting kicking this old behavior to the curb, now and forevermore!

What if, instead, you were at cause in your own life, decisive, creating what you want, seeing the world as full of opportunity?

While letting go of these old mindsets may be difficult the payoff is huge. First, your clientele will self-select. Clients who want to nickel-and-dime you, who want you to bid on a job competing with other vendors, will leave your practice. And that’s the good news, because when they do go they make room for the clients you want to serve, the ones you’ve been calling by name in your messaging and marketing.

Second, you will do a better job for your clients. Because now that you are at cause, you can be fully present in the way you are meant to be for your clients.

There’s an old spiritual lesson I was taught long ago:

When your hands are clenched tight, grasping whatever you can hold, you can’t receive the abundance the universe has in store for you. Open your hands, open them up and receive!

How do you draw the line between the work you are meant to do, intend to do, and the work that holds you back from your fullest expression? Let me know in the comments.

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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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    • Hi Arwen, glad you found it useful. All of us niche-based heart-based businesswomen need to be reminded of this, and supported in taking this stand.
      Love and light,

  1. great post and love all the questions you ask in it. I love Mark Silver and his resonant pricing……thx for sharing 🙂

    •  @GinaRafkind Thanks Gina! Yes, @MarkHeartofBiz is such a gift to my business and my life! Glad you’ve found his work, too. The resonant pricing is such a cool tool. Using it removes that icky feeling that I have to guess right! Instead I feel so supported by source and whoever is helping me with the work. What a relief!
      Love and light,

    •  @ShannVanderLeek Beautifully put, Shann! Thank you…
      Yes, please, to abundant thinking! My wish for all for today, for this week, going forward!
      Love and blessings,

  2. Thank you. Love your money heart.  Yes I too am doing a” money cleanse”.  Trying to draw out old beliefs
    that are not always serving me.  I am so used to just what needs doing and often volunteer for the good of the family. It was  not easy for me to feel good about asking for money. I found the more I let go, of those beliefs, the more money comes into my life and sometimes it is not always in dollars but other riches of life.  I agree changing my mindset gave me huge payoffs over the past few years. 

  3. I sincerely appreciate this post and it was found at the perfect time in my life. My July 14th  blog post was related to work and integrity, while volunteering my services to help a community effort and it didn’t work out. This post has helped reaffirm that I need to stand behind my decisions, my creative direction and not settle, no matter what the cost, be it financial, moral, etc. 🙂

  4. Just yesterday I said no to work that doesn’t inspire me. I may not have a full-time job come next month, but I’ll have time to do what really matters.

  5. Just the post I needed, thank you, Sue! I have some weird ideas about money (like for instance that it’s so nasty and complicated to have any I’d better avoid it) – it’s good to be reminded to keep looking at these things and not to take them for granted as features of the landscape.

    •  @HilaryBarrett Ah, Hilary, we *all* have weird ideas about money. Just like we do about sex. And power. I love being human!! Keep looking, keep dealing with what is. And keep circulating the money around with love and open hands. 
      “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. — Maya Angelou

      •  @MagnoliasWest  @HilaryBarrett  I loved the quote from May Angelou,
        “pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. — Maya Angelou”  That’s my goal today.  Going out to have fun like a child at the beach!!

  6. Thanks again Magnolia.  I am on a quest to release some of my own stories on money with the  use of a 
    7 weeks to Financial  Success and Personal Fulfillment with Nick Ortner and our writing guild.  A morning gratitude
    with loving kindness is the best treat of the day. 

  7. Love this discussion and your style of writing it.  Settling.  That’s such a big subject.  For years I used my will to power through, to acheive.  And I did.  Then somehow in there it became exhausting.  I couldn’t push anymore.  This summer I decided to open my hands and let life unfold as it does without my pushing, pulling, grabbing, proding.  It’s given me enormous space to be present, to be with some personal things that needed to be taken care of.  The best part of it is realizing that I can trust instead of making things happen.    Thanks for the community around this —

  8. Thanks for tackling that often forbidden topic, money!  I’m still affected by old beliefs that I “shouldn’t” charge, or at least not very much.  Two dynamite courses later (one with Mark Silver, one with Molly Gordon), I’m realizing it’s a daily practice!

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