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A few days back I got an email tagged URGENT asking me to teach a workshop in December.

The pay? Zilch.

The topic? Not mine.

The requester? A whip-smart, incredibly hardworking woman running a not-for-profit.

A few years back, that third bit would have stopped me in my tracks. Even though nothing else about the offer to be a cheap fill-in was appealing, I would have paused out of some sense of obligation to this woman’s work in the world.

Let me make sure you caught that:

I would have paused because of her work in the world. Not because of my work in the world.

After pausing, I would have spent hours (or days, if the email hadn’t demanded an immediate response!) making everyone around me pause, too. I would have gone over it with my husband seventeen times, then called three friends to get their advice.

All this wasted energy, mine and other people’s, to be reassured that the decision that my inner-voice gave me loud and clear would be okay to make.

playing the martyr

Let’s be honest: all this energy to make sure I wouldn’t be perceived as a bitch.

Because the answer was clear in my heart the minute I read the email–no, this is not my work and not how I work.  Even a few years ago there was no way I was going to say yes.

Roll back the calendar more than those few years and I would have heard my heart say no but my brain would have overridden it, said yes (because she is a lovely woman and asked for my support, right?) and then felt all sorts of negative stuff that doesn’t make my life or her’s any better.

So what did I do?

(This is a follow-up for all of you who wanted to know how I avoid always saying Too Busy!)

I simply wrote her an email and explained how I work and on what topics I teach.

Yup, it was that simple.

And I got a beautiful email back affirming how wonderful it is to be in each other’s worlds and how fun it will be to work together when the time is right.

And here’s the thing:

I wasn’t the right fit for this gig.

I could have said yes, sucked it up, and told myself I was a trooper and a good person for helping her out. Yup, I could’ve been a modern-day martyr. But by being honest with her, I freed her up to find someone who’s a better fit.

And I freed myself up to spend my time doing the work that my soul feels called to do.

So how about you? Do you say yes when you mean no? Tell me about it below!