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Did you ever notice that many successful entrepreneurs love to hike?

LESSON #12 – IT’S OK TO SAY NO

Life and Business Lessons Learned From A Hike Across Spain, Step by Step

I am a recovering “people pleaser”.  Perhaps it's a British thing, or perhaps it is just the way that I was parented but it is certainly part of my DNA and it is not always a bad thing.  Being the type of person that does not like to say no can be exhausting.  You end up having too much on your plate and then your life can spiral out of control.  If you are spinning lots of plates in the air it is because you have not yet learned that it is ok to say no.

Life on the Camino is actually very simple.  You wake up, you walk, you eat, you sleep and then repeat – for about five weeks (if you are walking the Frances route).

If there is one lesson that you learn quite quickly on the Camino is saying no, or making excuses to not walk with certain people.  Even though the majority of the time you are having the time of your life, The Camino is not always a bed of roses. As in regular life, there are people who will zap your energy, negative nellies (as I like to call them) and those that lead you into situations that you are really not in the right mindset for.

For example, I have some regrets whilst walking the Frances route.

  • I walked with someone for two days who walked at a different pace to me, but I felt that I wanted to keep up – which caused me blisters.
  • I stayed with friends rather than visiting an old castle that I really wanted to see.
  • I didn't say “no” to my walking colleagues when I really wanted to stop at O Cebreiro and soak up the atmosphere.
  • I regret not stopping and exploring more churches along the way
  • And I certainly regret not spending more time paddling in the streams or swimming in the rivers.

You will often find yourself walking with people that are just “not your cup of tea”.  If that happens then have a few tactics up your sleeve so you can avoid having a miserable few hours.   Here are some of mine…

  • Sorry, I am going to stop here as I need the loo, I will catch you at the next cafe.
  • I am going to take some photos – you carry on.
  • I am going to push on and walk a bit faster as I want to get a bed in the next town.  Hasta Luego!

As I reflect on the missed opportunities, I realise that life is very similar.  How often have you missed out on something as you have put other people first?  I'm not saying that we should live life in a completely selfish way, but I am saying that we should consider saying “no” to things we don't want to do, a bit more often.

When I returned from my Camino, I found myself thinking about the decisions that I was making in everyday life and also in business.  I started to decline work that I really didn't want to do and overpriced myself for the clients that were more hassle than they were worth (we all have those type of clients!).  In business, we are always concerned about where the next customer is going to come from so we take on more and more, with little thought as to whether that client is right for you and your business.  It is rather amazing that when you make the decision to only work with a certain type of person then you tend to attract more of them!

Life is the same.  If you decide that you are going to make more time for you, then the opportunities naturally present themselves.

Summary

Learning to say no is still a work in progress for me and it is also a fine line.  I certainly don't want to say no to everything that makes me feel uncomfortable.  We grow as people and learn lots of life lessons when we live outside our comfort zone.  My main takeaway from this lesson is to have a balance.  If there are things in life that you want to experience then don't let other people stand in your way.  It is ok to be a little bit selfish every now and then.

Thank you for reading this blog.

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