Life Advice



Barton Goldsmith: The power of saying no

Barton Goldsmith, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Last month I said no to an offer from a publisher, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get another one. That didn’t sit well, but I had other things to do, so I let it be and did my positive self-talk: You’ll be fine no matter what, the newspapers love you, you’ve got seven books already, and your blog is on fire. All true, and I let these thoughts comfort me — but not for too long.

About 10 days later, a different book project offer came in from the same publisher, and it was a much better deal. Yes, that makes me happy, and it was all because I valued myself enough to turn down the first offer. When you know what you are worth, other people will respect that.

Saying no was a risk, and I felt it in my gut. The book business, like everything else, has changed over time. It’s good to take advantage of positive offers that come your way in this life, but it’s also important to not let fear lead you into an obligation you won’t feel good about. Had I taken on the first project, the result would not have been as good a book, because I wouldn’t have been happy about it.

Creatives are very available, and I’m thankful I can continue to put positive information out there. I like to contribute and hopefully make the world a better place, but I can’t compromise myself to make that happen. We all need to stand up for ourselves.

People who have joined the "Great Resignation" and quit their jobs because they felt underpaid and undervalued are doing the right thing. If you want recognition, sometimes you have to walk away and make people miss you, because if you keep taking bad offers, you’ll miss the good ones.


It’s that feeling of being used that is so hard to shower off. Not feeling appreciated, respected or paid what you should be paid is no way to go through life. I know there are people who simply have no choice, and that is very sad. But if you do have a choice and you don’t demand something more from life, that may be even sadder.

If you are thinking about saying no or making a big change, you will probably come up with many reasons why it’s not a good idea, because these days most of us are risk-averse. You need to find the time that’s right for you, but meanwhile you can prepare, at least in your head. You may discover that when you’ve gathered enough thoughts about your next move, it will happen.

Thinking ahead will mentally prepare you and strengthen you emotionally, so you’ll no longer be at the mercy of your moods, and you’ll be ready for change when the time comes. If at that point you still feel nervous, be aware that feeling nervous is only normal, so take it in stride. To help motivate you to take the next big step, consider how you would feel if you hadn’t taken the last risk that succeeded for you.

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