Am I allowed to Say NO?

When am I allowed to say NO? It’s a question I’ve really been struggling with lately. Is there such a thing as saying NO too often? I really believe, and have experienced, the power of focus. And in order to stay focused, you have to say no sometimes. But knowing that doesn’t make it easier. Whenever I say NO too a new opportunity, I know I’m doing the right thing. But it’s scary. "What if I say NO too often?" "Maybe I say NO so much that at the end of the day, there’s nothing left for me?"

I’ve recently been struggling with this question, as I’ve been applying for jobs for a couple of weeks now, and I've not found what I’m looking for, YET. There are opportunities coming my way, which I am very grateful for, but I turn them down because of a feeling… A feeling that they’re not challenging enough, or that they won’t bring me closer too my goal. A feeling that they might even distance or distract me from that goal, which is definitely not something I’m interested in. “You should be happy with what you have” is a saying that comes up… And I am. But I really believe that knowing what not to do is incredibly valuable. “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking”, Right? 

Making the Decision 

Some people make decisions very fast and others take their time. But I think our thoughts and feelings are the same. I myself make decisions pretty fast. I booked my flight to Canada at the breakfast table, for example... I see a job offer come in and decline or accept it within the hour… But that doesn’t mean making decisions comes easy to me. It used to take me so much longer to make decisions in the past. One, because I didn’t realize I was allowed to make my own decisions. And two, because I didn’t know what it meant too experience the consequences of my own actions; as parents really tend to take over that part (Which I don’t think they should...).

One thing that has made this process easier for me, is to really think about what values I want to stand by and to have a clear vision of my future. If an opportunity fits these two parameters, I’ll do it. If not, I just have to say NO. it’s incredibly scary, and that doesn’t change. But the thought of being stuck in a job for example, that I know won’t bring me closer too my goals and aspirations, just sounds like hell too me. This is one of the reasons I dropped out of high-school. School was taking up nearly all my time, and it wasn’t bringing me closer to my goal at all, which back then was to have my own company in building sheds, carports, furniture, kitchens… 

Saying NO to Things you said Yes to Before

This is probably even harder. Saying NO too an opportunity coming your way before you take it is generally pretty accepted. Where it gets tough is when you’re already committed too something and somewhere along the way realize that you made the wrong decision. This has happened to me over, and over, and over, again. And it really sucks. I always try to start on something with a positive, open-minded mindset and with the best intentions. But sometimes, things turn out differently, and you have to blow it off. 

I believe that once you know the situation you’re currently in isn’t where you want to be, you owe it too yourself to go, to keep moving and to take the jump. Even if at that time, there is nowhere else to go too. Again, it is incredibly scary, and you’ll second guess it multiple times, but I’ve found that in order to find the right thing, you have to put yourself in a position to find that right thing. It’s the only way to get yourself out of that situation, and in to a position to succeed. I wouldn’t bet on someone coming to rescue you, because you’ll end up waiting for that person too show up forever

If you know school isn’t for you - Leave

If you’re not enjoying your current job - Leave

If you’re in a bad relationship - Leave

That feeling of Guilt

In most cases, when you make big discussions like this, you’ll only really start understanding what a decision in-tales 'when the damage has been done'. That’s when feelings of guilt come up. You’ll feel like you’ve done something bad and that you’re letting everyone who cares about you down. But that’s life. Sometimes you have to do things people around you don’t necessarily like. And that’s ok, because the truth is, we are all responsible for our own wellbeing. no-one else is.

“Sometimes you have to be selfish in order to be Selfless”

You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of others. I strongly believe that. So many people help others in order to help themselves, but I’ve found that to be a very short-term solution too a much deeper issue. It’s a pain killer if you will. And it works! But it’s not sustainable. 


Don’t wait for anyone to say NO for you. “If you find yourself in the wrong story, leave” and trust yourself. Really measure your decision towards your values and future goals and know that disappointment and discouragement will always be a part of the process. You are responsible for your own wellbeing, for your own future, and no-one is gonna come by and safe you from that terrible job, or school, or that significant other you stoped loving 6 years ago... Often it’s not a matter of taking a good or a bad decision, it’s about taking a decision or not taking one. So take that decision! Make that first step! Whatever it is! And trust it will all be worth it in the Long-term. 

About Louis De Keyser

Louis is a 20 year old, in the process of moving from Belgium to his dream city, New York. He was the founder and CEO of Tiny House Belgium, a Tiny House Design and Construction company that focused on promoting the idea of 'smaller living' and 'living life without a mortgage'. He sold his business in January 2017 to pursue his dream of moving to North-America. Right now, Louis lives in Toronto Canada. Stay up-to-date by signing up to my Messenger List!