Personal Growth

Reach your personal development goals by saying no

Reflecting on 2017, it was a rough year for many of us. That said, it helped me realized in order to advance ourselves to reach new heights, we must do more than we ever thought possible. When it comes to personal development, one of the biggest lessons I learned was what to say “no” to for my own development.

Many could say last year was a professional high as we launched two new businesses and community initiatives to impact our city. In regards to my personal life, I reached a new low as I sank deeper and deeper into my depression. That’s why this year, I am committed to holding myself accountable for how I use my time, energy, and money.

Naturally, personal change does not happen overnight. After a few months and many hard decisions, I realized the benefits of focusing more on self-improvement and less on those who/what that does not serve me. Now, I am saying “no” to a number of things this year and I think you should too! Let’s all say no to…

People who constantly complain about unnecessary drama

Listen, we all need to vent sometimes. That’s ok! Venting is healthy as it lets out some of our frustration and bottled feelings. But please, don’t ask for my advice, opinions, or time if you’re not going to follow through with our solution! If you choose to do nothing to resolve your problem, don’t continue to whine about it! It’s exhausting and we both have better things to focus our energy on. If it’s something that really bothers you, do something! If not, please don’t make me suffer WITH YOU!

People who are apathetic about their ambitions

I’m a firm believer in the power of desire – when you really want something, you will find a way to get it no matter what. I’m also a big believer in people. I tend to trust others more than I should and I do everything I can to help them succeed. So, if you tell me you want [insert goals and ambitions here], I’m going to do what I can to help you get it. That said, if I want you to succeed and am doing more to help you reach your goals than you are, well then Houston, we have a problem!

Unconstructive feedback

For a long time, I allowed others to validate my self-worth. It’s a huge side effort of being a people pleaser. My insecurities and constant desire for approval resulted in depression, imposter syndrome, and broken relationships. Now, as I work to advance both my personal and professional development, I am learning when to take feedback and how to face criticisms.

I do this by asking myself a few questions:

  1. What is the intention of the person giving me the feedback? Is it to better me or is it because they want to get something off their chest? This includes telling me what they don’t like about me, what I can do better when they have no personal experience, and so on. If it’s the former, I proceed with the next questions. If not, I thank them for their feedback and move on.
  2. How well do they know the situation or me? Showing empathy and having someone at least try to understand me and the situation makes a huge difference. Asking questions and putting in an effort to learn about the circumstances shows maturity, consideration, and wisdom. It’s easy to give an opinion on something you think there is a straightforward solution for. Most of the time, that’s really not that simple. So unless they have better grasp on the situation, they may not be the person I want guiding me through it.
  3. What are they really advising me to do? Listening to constructive criticism is not easy. It requires humility to accept we may be wrong and can do better. Therefore it’s important I understand what they are advising and how I can better handle the situation if it comes up again.

Remember, it’s not what you say, but how you give the feedback!

Now that I have all this time, energy, and money back, what is a girl to do?

As important as it is to say “no” to people/things which no longer serves me, it’s equally important to say “yes!” to people and opportunities that brings joy, fits my intentions, and brings me closer to my personal development goals! This includes…

Developing deeper connections

I’m not a big fan of small talk so when I meet new people, I love asking them thought-provoking questions to learn about who they are and their goals.

  1. What are you excited about?
  2. What do you want? (This one typically confuses people as many have never been confronted with this question)
  3. (And my personal favorite) How can I help you?

I am fascinated by people. I love learning how they view the world, solve problems, and work towards their goals! I love asking fun and slightly personal questions to learn more about their passions and seek collaboration opportunities to help achieve their life mission.

Facing My Fears

This one’s a toughy. Naturally, we’re afraid to face our fears. Recently, I learned to reframe my perspective on the things I’m afraid of by shifting my fears into a challenge I can work little by little to overcome. Of course, if I look to make an impact and hopefully change the world someday, I need to start with facing my own fears before I can help others face theirs!

I’m starting with overcoming my fear of writing! With my horrifying spelling skills and difficulties articulating my thoughts, I am naturally hyper insecure about my writing. As I shift my point of view from focusing on my fear to consider all of the wonderful opportunities creating thoughtful content can do, I am invigorated by the challenge. If overcoming this one fear will allow me to connect with amazing people such as yourself, my fear of writing seems like a small hurdle on my way to reaching bigger and better goals.

Having more fun!

This may sound silly but I’m 26 years old for goodness sake! I dress like I’m in my late thirties (or so I’m told) and am thinking of the impact I hope to make in the next few decades. I, like other aspiring makers and shakers, need to have more fun during our youth! Now now, I’m not referring to the binge drinking or adrenaline junkie adventures. I’m talking about enjoying more of what I’m doing every day, developing a positive mental attitude, and fostering great opportunities for enjoyment! ….okay so this one I’m still working on but it’s the thought that counts right?

To recap, the most important takeaway is this. Reclaim your time, energy, and money and stop doing the things you don’t like! Sarah Knight, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together shares it best in our uber-popular TedTalk.

Inspired by Sarah Knight, my partner, and many hours of meditation!

Melissa Thi Le

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  1. Saying no is so important… it is a word that holds us back from many opportunities just because we are afraid to say it!
    Thanks for sharing:)

  2. This is a great article, especially since there are so many people that struggle with the same problems. Sometimes we may feel like we are alone, but in reality we all have our own personal struggles. It is very important to invest in our own personal well-being and focus less on everyone’s approval. Saying no and facing my fears, that’s a tricky for me.

  3. You have said so many useful things in this article that I believe everyone can take away from., myself included! Thank you! And best of luck to you in life, enjoy it!

  4. Saying no is SO IMPORTANT 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Saying no really actually allows us to grow and move in the direction we want to go. Such good wisdom!

  5. Love this! When people like you, share their struggles it makes it easier for others to open up. So many people in our world go through the same thing, alone. I’ve battled for years. I am also like you with small talk, I can’t handle it. Thanks for opening up and sharing, that’s a big step.

  6. Great article! A few years ago I came to the conclusion that to get to the place I wanted to be in life, I’d have to cut out certain people and situations from my life that weren’t helpful for me. Life is short and I’m not willing to waste time on negative people and/or situations that aren’t productive for me anymore!

  7. I love everything about this post! So important for women! It is one of my goals to learn how to say no more when the situation doesn’t suit me. I always feel like I will upset someone, but that is something I have to learn to move past!

  8. Thank you Davilyn, I appreciate your comment! Sharing personal struggles and how we overcame them are how we plan to connect with others and build our Strive community. It’s easy for experts to say what is supposed to work but unless you go through it yourself, e.g. depression, you may not understand fully. Even then, it might not work for everyone as each person is different. Either way, the point is to use these experiences to spark conversations and hopefully connection! Glad to see you enjoyed this post 🙂

  9. I’m glad to hear about your experience! It is a tough decision, especially when they’re close to you, have history, and they really never truly wronged you. That said, if people, things, or opportunities does add value to your life, they are holding a place for someone/thing that can. Thank you for sharing your experience

  10. Thank you Yolanda for your kind words. We aim to share our struggles and experiences in the hopes to connect with others and help them through their experience. Simply having a conversation about it so helpful and we’re building a community to help you with that! If you’re interested, would love to have you join our Facebook group:

  11. I completely agree! I think we spend tons of time doing things that provide no major value to us or that we don’t even enjoy in the first place. Great post and thanks for sharing this.

  12. Yes! You don’t have to say yes to everything anymore Andie. Put yourself first!
    What is one thing you can say “no” to TODAY that will help reclaim your time, energy, and money?

  13. Thank you Erik for your thoughts! That’s exactly what Sarah Knight talks about in her TedTalk. What were some things you had to remove from your life in order to better enjoy yourself?

  14. Thank you so much for your kind words! I agree. It takes a long time. But once you make the decision to improve, something inside clicks. Have you ever experienced that? If so, what did you decide on?

  15. Yes, saying no is so important and by not saying it when we should we can end up making ourselves miserable and that’s not good for anybody. I had a big messy situation in my life that I finally said no to last year and made some huge life changes and now everyone is better off for it.

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