06/12/2013 07:49 am ET Updated Oct 24, 2013

Success Is the Freedom to Say, 'No'

Fancy title
C-level exposure
Big salary
Heavy influence
Impressive contacts
Reach assignments
World travel... on a private jet

All of these opportunities were mine and I said, "No."

You read that right. I passed it up -- and not for conventional reasons.

I am not a wife. I am not a mother. I am not caring for ailing parents. I do not have an illness that requires special attention. Unlike many women in my age range and at my career level, my responsibilities are to me and me alone... and also to my life.

And this life -- this "time spent outside of work" -- is wonderful. I have nieces and nephews to snuggle and spoil. I have friends with whom I laugh, dine and travel. I have dates to attend that may lead to that husband and children. I have books to read and yoga poses to master. I have steaming tea cups and HuffPost articles calling my name. I have quiet evenings shuffling through the Nexflix documentary section to soak up. I have kitchen countertops to select and dental appointments I should not reschedule (again).

I have a life -- with a capital L -- to enjoy, and it turns out I didn't need to sell that concept to anyone but myself.

I consulted with my most trusted advisors -- friends and family. As I struggled with conflicting feelings, many voices echoed what I knew was true. My mind (the part of me that knew this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was too big to pass up) was trying to talk my gut (that part of me that knew it would swallow me whole) out of making the decision that was right for my life.

I was so afraid someone would be disappointed in me for not jumping on this opportunity. My mother was distressed by this concept and asked, "Who would ever be disappointed in you for making the best decision for yourself?"

I stopped spinning to consider her question. Finally, I said, "Me. I would be disappointed. If I heard someone tell me this story, I would say, 'Take it! Quickly -- before they change their minds! This is huge! What are you, crazy?'"

And then it hit me. This was crazy. The frenetic pace at which this process had occurred, the extremely personal inquiries, the questioning of my loyalty to an organization I had only just made acquaintance with -- it was all crazy. It would continue to make me crazy, and I value my sanity and personal time too much to say, "Yes."

So I said, "No," even though saying, "Yes" would have been easier, and more impressive, and better for my career.

I said "Yes" to my life -- my passions, the things that fuel my soul, that ever-elusive brain space -- and I feel free. It turns out I did jump on this opportunity; the opportunity to honor myself and live my life with a capital L.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.