How to Walk Away From An Opportunity That Is All Wrong For You

Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash.

Maxine had just finished a meeting with a prospective client. Everything seemed to go well. But she couldn’t get excited about the job. The people were nice but frankly, she told her business coach, “I got bored. I had trouble staying awake during my own job interview.”

Should Maxine withdraw her candidacy or hang on to see what happens?

The answer lies in the music a lot of us listen to (even though we won’t admit it): country and western classics.

Look up the famous hit by Kenny Rogers, The Gambler. I can’t quote even a line due to copyright laws, but you can find it on YouTube.

Know when to leave. Know when to stay. Know when to put down your cards. And above all, recognize when it’s time to walk away and when it’s time to run.

From what I’ve seen, successful business owners (and corporate executives) share this common mantra: “Be able to walk away.”

Be able to let go of a customer who’s a pain and (any job or assignment) that’s creating pain.

Be able to claim your power and accept only projects, clients, and opportunities that support you and your goals.

Be able to recognize a business opportunity that’s all wrong for you, to say, “That’s not a good fit.”

If you have trouble staying awake, that’s like a red light flashing and a big siren screaming, “Go away!”

I once went on an interview for an academic job…and one of the interviewers fell asleep, I’m not kidding. His eyes started to close and his head drooped. As far as I was concerned, the process was over. I couldn’t wait to get on a plane and go home.

So…what’s the best way to walk (or run)?

They probably won’t add, “Frankly, we agree ­ you’re not a good fit here.” But most likely, that’s exactly what they’re thinking.

On very rare occasions, you’ll hear, “Oh no! What can we do to make you change your mind?” or, “We have another option that may interest you.”

But don’t count on it.

Good reasons: “We don’t have room to do justice to your project.” or, “I’ve decided to pursue another option that seems to be a better fit for me at this time.”

Bad reasons: “The chemistry didn’t seem right,” or, “I don’t see room for my career growth.”

Your contact person might be transitioning to a new role herself ­ and you may be a terrific match for an opportunity in her next position.

Be sure you aren’t acting out of short-term emotion. Wait a few days after the interview (if you have that luxury) and consider talking to a coach, consultant, or other trusted sounding board.

Families and close friends are notoriously unreliable as resources. They have their own agendas. And they don’t want you to change your life.

Often saying “no” will clear the decks for you to clarify what you really want. Some folks believe you’re reflecting abundance and making way for newer, more appropriate opportunities to enter your life.

Bottom Line:

Being in a position to decline opportunities means you hold a winning hand. You’re well along the road to whatever you define as success and prosperity. Use this option sparingly and wisely.

In any relationship, I’ve found that saying “yes” to the wrong proposal inevitably leads to a bitter, expensive divorce.

I’m Cathy Goodwin, a strategist, author, and speaker, helping small businesses overcome their biggest marketing challenges with storytelling. My website is

Helping entrepreneurs and independent professionals grow their businesses one story at a time.

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