In July 2013, I was in a great space. I had found a comfortable workload at the company I’d been working at for nearly ten years. I didn’t have to kill myself; the work was just enough to keep me happily busy. So sometimes I had time to sit in my home office and look out the window. I have a pretty view of green trees and birds and butterflies. It relaxes me.
One day, I got so relaxed while looking out the window that I came up with a bunch of ideas to make the company more efficient. I told my boss. He was one of the partners and I’d been his first employee those many years ago… so we had a good connection. He thought my ideas were great and sent them to our CEO.
The next day, the CEO called me and said they wanted me to become the chief editor of the company. There was no such job at the time—they would create it just for me. And it came with a six-figure salary and all kinds of bonuses and perks.
And now they wanted to make me the chief editor. I had a full-blown panic attack. Should I take the job? What if I hated it? What if it would leave me no time for anything else? What if…
I called my original boss, the partner, and told him to talk me down because I was so scared. He didn’t understand what my problem was. He said, “Listen, you deserve it. And you’ll be good at it, don’t worry.”
He didn’t get it. I said, “I KNOW I’ll be good at it, but at what cost?”
I talked it over with Husband #1 and Son #1. They said, “Why not at least try it?”
My son said, “You always told me it’s good to try new things. So why don’t you try it, and if you hate it, just go back to your old job?”
So I said okay, but I didn’t know then that it would be impossible to go back to my old job, and I didn’t know that it would be impossible to stay in the new one.
I hadn’t counted on the fact that some people hate competition, or what they perceive as such. I also hadn’t counted on the fact that most people hate change and will push back hard to avoid having to change.
My job description was to create change, so a lot of people hated what I did. It was a constant uphill battle, and it exhausted and scared me. I started waking up in the middle of the night and obsessing about minutiae of the job, especially when I had had an argument with a newsletter editor.
I can be pretty tough in arguments, but later the guilt is eating me. Should I have said what I said? Would the guy hate me forever now?
But the worst was that saying "Yes" to the chief editor job meant saying "No" to my family. All the time.
When I was done working after a ten- to twelve-hour day, I was so tired that I couldn’t focus on anything but myself. All I wanted to do was sit and watch TV and shovel some kind of not-cooked-by-me food into my mouth. Then I’d fall into bed and do the same all over again.
I would yell at my son when he came into my home office while I was working. “Not now! I have to finish this!”
He was ten then… the last year where I could have really enjoyed his company before he turned into a cynical pre-teen who hates to acknowledge that he popped out of someone’s womb over a decade ago. It's one year I can never get back.
Like James Altucher, I said “Yes” to bullshit (aka lots of money and prestige), and “No” to my family and happiness and my own peace of mind.
I’m trying to say “No” more these days, to the things I don't want. I’m a freelancer now, which is a pain in the butt when it comes to taxes and health care, but it gives me the freedom to say “No” more often. And that’s just the way I like it.