At first glance, it sounds like an incredibly stupid exercise, I grant you.

Um, I don’t want to spend money on insurance, on my mortgage payment, on those never-ending, teeny-tiny little school activity requests that dribble home every other day, on fixing my car (again), on buying new shoes for kids whose feet won’t.stop.growing, or on the property tax shortfall notice I got last week. And that’s just for starters.

Realistically, at least for most of us – a lot of the things we don’t want to spend money on won’t go away just because we decide we don’t want to pay for them anymore. Ten months out of the year, my kids need shoes, and – last time I checked, anyway – two-, four-, and six-year olds aren’t allowed to get jobs.

The point of digging down into the things you want to say “no” (or even “hell, no”) to – like loan payments or groceries that you waste or tv you don’t watch – isn’t so you can dwell on how much you hate paying for those things. That’s just the beginning.

Getting really, really clear about the things you actively dislike or don’t care enough to bother spending money on is only the first step. The next step is heady, fulfilling stuff: getting really, really clear on those things you truly DO want to spend money on.

Start working on that list of things you don’t want to spend money on. Next post will be all about the YES.

I’ve had a chance to do some work with Heather Thorkelson lately. She’s a small business strategist (among so many other things) working with entrepreneurs to align their work with their dream of work, whatever (or wherever) that might be. I admire her an awful lot, and she wrote something a few weeks ago about this very topic of saying no so we can say yes that she said I could share with you:

(Also, you can read the continuation of this post here: The Secret to a Successful Financial Plan

Beyond the “find my passion” stage: how to find direction in an unconventional market

I’m going to be straight up with you – I think everyone’s gotten a little carried away with this whole “find my passion” business. First off, it’s a bloody tall order that leaves most chasing their tails, reading every self-help “find yourself” book out there for years and still not coming to a conclusion.

I’ve got a better idea. Ideas to be exact. It’s an approach that worked for me, and many of my clients. Heck I even heard Oprah talking about Step One the other day so I must be on to something!

Step One: Get really clear on what you DON’T want to do.

You’d be surprised at how powerful of an exercise this is. My answers when I asked myself this back in 2010 included things like;

1) I don’t want to fill out useless spreadsheets for other people to prove that I was ‘working’ but that no one would ever actually read. (Hi, can I please have those three hours of my life back?)

2) I don’t ever want to work with people I don’t like.

3) I don’t want to ever have to ask for permission for my measly three weeks off a year where I can go and really LIVE.

4) I don’t want to do work that has no meaning for me personally. And if it does lose it’s meaning, I want the built-in flexibility to shift gears and move toward greater service and fulfillment.

Savvy? Pause here and go answer that question yourself.

Step Two: Figure out what makes you happy.

For real. Not the fleeting stuff like shoe shopping.

What gives you a profound sense of happiness and brings you right into the NOW every time you experience it? Helping people? Being in your ‘zone of genius’? Public speaking?

Also ask yourself what kind of humans light you up? (HINT: You should be working with them!)

I know this is a lot harder than it sounds. My clients often struggle with this, but it’s some of the most important self-awareness work you’ll ever do. So sit down with a pen and paper, activate the brain cells, and get scribbling, love. If you’re really having trouble, think about what you’d want people to say about you at a speech in your honour ten years from now.

Step Three: Time is your most valuable asset. How do you want to spend it?

This may seem too pie-in-the-sky for many of you, but honestly, when I started building my workday around how I truly wanted to spend my time, my happiness increased ten-fold.

Be honest here. How do you like to spend your time? In nature? On a surfboard? Snuggling with your dog? Making out with your lover? Traveling on trains? You need to build your livelihood in a way that accommodates for that. It may not be entirely possible in the beginning, but when you know how you want to spend your time you have something tangible to work towards.

Forget that new-agey “passion” hoo-ha. The reality is you probably have many. And therefore many viable options. Figure out how you want to live and the options will become clearer.

Yours truly,

The pharmaceutical rep who became a life coach who then became a web designer who then because a business strategist/polar expedition guide in the process of figuring out a formula that would work for me.

 

(PS: Every step was awesome, every step brought me income, and every step helped me figure out what I truly wanted in this stage of my life. The road may not be straight, but it promises to be interesting.)

You can find Heather at her website Republic of Freedom, on Twitter, or on Google+. She’s currently working on The Leap Guide: Everything you need to know about building the livelihood of your dreams through freelancing.