Becoming Incredibly Successful Means Saying No to the Wrong Money
“People are unhappy in large part because they are confused about what is valuable.” -William Irvine
Most people are making the “wrong” kind of money right now.
The wrong money is any money earned while doing tasks that are irrelevant to your Big Goals.
Wrong money is abundant. It’s everywhere. Ironically, it becomes especially abundant when you finally start to take a few steps towards that which matters most.
It’s funny — when I was unemployed and not-funny-anymore-broke for 6 straight months, money was nowhere to be found. I would have done any job for grocery money.
But now that I’m finally making progress in my personal business, wrong money requests come in every day.
I had to freeze my coaching services because I’m getting too many client requests and I want to focus on writing. Magazines, websites, and publishers email me constantly asking if they can pay me. Gigs, jobs, projects, and opportunities are flooding my inbox.
I’ve said no to all of them, because it was the wrong money.
The wrong money leads you to mediocrity. And I won’t tolerate mediocrity.
“If it’s not a ‘Hell yeah!’ it’s a no.” -Derek Sivers
If You Want Greatness, You Need to Say No to Merely “Good” Things
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” -Warren Buffet
Most people have a life full of merely “good” things.
Their jobs are merely “good” ones. Their relationships and behaviors are only good-enough. Their happiness and fulfillment are decent, but not like, great or anything.
Merely good things prevent you from achieving a truly great life.
“Good” opportunities are everywhere! Good jobs, good dating partners, good investments, good TV shows. Open your email right now, and there’s probably dozens of “good” projects vying for your time.
Most people don’t have the patience or poise to pass on merely good opportunities and wait for a truly great one.
Said Srinivas Rao:
“If you want to live an exceptional and extraordinary life, you have to give up many of the things that are part of a normal one.”
Good opportunities usually only pay out the wrong money. You don’t want the wrong money.
This money keeps you busy running on the hamster wheel, never really making any meaningful progress towards what really matters.
I know writing that book or creating that podcast or starting that business probably won’t pay anything in the short-term. It’s tempting to take a $30/hr gig for 2 months while you’re “preparing” to finally start doing what you know you need to do.
But that time usually never comes for most people. The wrong money keeps you in mediocrity.
If you want amazing money doing amazing things, you need to start saying “no” to the wrong money.
“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high that we miss it, but that our aim is too low and he hit it.” -Aristotle
Here’s What Happens When You Start Saying “No” to Everything
“If we organize the majority of our work time around applying the principles of greatness, and pretty much stop and ignore everything else, our lives would be simpler and our results vastly improved.” -Jim Collins
A few years ago, I was working as an English teacher in South Korea. My real dream was to be a writer and work for myself. There was a period of few months where I was offered all kind of interesting jobs; I said no to almost every opportunity that came my way. All of them would have paid handsomely:
- Youth basketball coach
- Drummer for a local church
- Paid magazine writer
- Private tutor
- Remote career coach
- Analytics consultant
I said no to all of these because I was working to gain 100,000 email subscribers in 6 months, and none of these opportunities would have helped me reach that goal.
My reward for saying no to almost everything?
I had all the time I need to focus on my Big Goals.
- I had a ton of time to write, developing my craft.
- I had time to be fully engaged in a powerful online writing curriculum that will 10x my results.
- I had lots of time to get in “flow” states through focused deep work and produce the best writing I’ve ever published.
I could’ve made a nice little chunk of change from any one of those opportunities.
But they were the wrong kind of money.
I’m unwilling to tolerate mediocrity. I refuse to have anything less than the best my life can be.
I’m waiting for the great opportunities that will help me create the life I desperately want: 100% financial freedom, owning a personal business, and traveling the world while helping people become successful.
Anything that doesn’t help me get there is the wrong kind of money.
I’m not saying it’s easy. Saying no to the wrong money — any money — is hard.
I’ve chosen to leave thousands of dollars on the table. I’ve passed on the opportunity to get paid for my writing on huge platforms. I’ve said no to working with incredible people on cool stuff.
In the end, all of these things were only “good” opportunities, though.
And I’ll tolerate nothing less than a truly great life, doing truly incredible things.
“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, as it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.” -Jim Collins
Here’s How to Start Living a Powerfully Fulfilling Life
“Those who strive to turn good to great find the process no more painful or exhausting that those who settle for just letting things wallow along in mind-numbing mediocrity.” -Jim Collins
It’s a funny thing — it actually takes about the same amount of energy to sustain a mediocre life as it does to build an incredibly fulfilling one.
If you want to have a powerfully fulfilling life, you just need to do one thing:
Stop making excuses for your limiting behavior.
Your choices are extremely powerful. If you make mediocre choices, you’ll get mediocre results. But if you start making world-class choices, you can expect to see world-class success.
Most people waste untold amounts of energy justifying bad behaviors. It’s exhausting constantly ignoring the voice of the real you, sternly reminding you this is not what we’re supposed to be doing.
Darren Hardy once said,
“Nothing creates more stress than when our actions and behaviors aren’t congruent with our values.”
It’s hard enough to start creating a new, successful life. You can’t keep wasting precious energy practicing negative behaviors that keep you in mediocrity.
If you want to change your life, you need to stop sabotaging yourself by making poor choices.
“To get different results, you’re going to have to do things differently.” -Darren Hardy
Why Most People Will Read This and Not Change a Thing
“For many, the power of their excuse is more powerful than the power of their dreams.” -Robert Kiyosaki
Sadly, most people are living lives that aren’t that fulfilling.
The status quo is “good-enough.” The majority encourages a life devoid of passion and true fulfillment.
What’s even sadder is that most people will stay on this path for a long time.
Life passes by very quickly when we do things we’re not supposed to be doing. The great philosopher Seneca once wrote:
“The largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose.”
So why will most people read this and not change a thing?
Because change is hard. Most people see the price tag for success and back up sheepishly.
As tough as life can be for most people, the pain isn’t bad enough. Tim Ferriss put it this way: “Most people have insufficient reason for action. The pain isn’t painful enough. It’s a ‘nice-to-have,’ not a ‘must-have.’”
If you’re willing to tolerate mediocrity, your life will always have mediocre parts to it.
Tony Robbins famously said, “What you tolerate it what you get. What you allow, continues.”
People’s standards are still so low, they’ll keep tolerating mediocre circumstances, even incredibly painful ones.
If you really want to change a fundamental part of your life (like being able to say no to the wrong opportunities), you need to embrace the risk of uncertainty.
Ordinary people don’t give up their security. But extraordinary people are willing to trade security and safety for the freedom to finally live a truly magnificent life.
Are you willing to give up your comfort for the chance to evolve into a better version of yourself?
“While we are postponing, life speeds by.” -Seneca
“The goal of life is not to relax on the beach, sipping mojitos all day. The purpose is to find something you love that also adds value to the world.” -Benjamin Foley
Wrong opportunities offering the wrong money are everywhere.
Maybe you’re stuck in the quicksand of good-not-great right now. You’re bogged down with things that prevent from you building the life you’ve always wanted.
This is how most people live. They’ve said yes to too many of the wrong things, and now they’re stuck in a “cycle-of-suck” that might pay nicely, but creates a hollow life indeed.
Saying no to the wrong money is very difficult. Most people walk around with dollar signs in their eyes, ready to say yes to just about any opportunity that pays.
But this is ordinary. It’s average. Seth Godin once said, “Is there a difference between ‘average’ and ‘mediocre?’ Not so much.”
If you want an truly exceptional and incredibly fulfilling life, you need to start saying “no” more.
No to the wrong people, the wrong jobs, the wrong foods, and the wrong money.
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