This year I took a vow to say no to the things that didn’t work for me. To recognize the things that were not going to improve me, motivate me, or benefit me. By no means was it coming from a selfish perspective, I just felt like I was starting to always say yes and never be happy with what I was doing. I was lacking fulfillment and enjoyment, yet was constantly busy.
Learning to say no didn’t mean I didn’t want to work, it didn’t mean I wouldn’t still be busy, it just meant I needed to spend more time evaluating something before I agreed and said yes. If I didn’t see how it fit into my personal goals or fulfilled me in some other way than it was a no. This included everything from analyzing a potential client meeting and realizing, regardless of their budget and the pay, that we were not a good fit for each other to saying no to that networking event that I knew would be a business card roulette with no real leads. Saying no meant I had more time to work on my own existing business or take a break if I needed it.
We live in a yes world, a world that glorifies busy over fulfilled. You’re expected to be overworked and exhausted rather than inspired and motivated. I started to notice the busier I got and the more things I put on my plate that didn’t fulfill me, the less inspired, motivated and creative I became and therefore the more my overall work and efforts suffered. I started taking the time to better inspect what I had going on and only saying yes to things that worked. It sounds easier said than done but I followed a few simple rules that helped me through my decision process.
Don’t make impulse decisions or feel pressured to immediately respond.
In the instant gratification and fast paced environment we’re all in it’s easy to feel pressured to immediately respond. Immediate responses seemed to result in a yes or not thinking something through. If something had to be answered immediately and I KNEW it wasn’t right I would say no, otherwise I would ask for 24 hours to provide my response. Everything from networking events, to plans with friends, to agreeing to a favor. It gave me the time to really think about said event, whether or not I TRULY had time, and if I did have time, how it served me or brought a benefit to someone that was in need of it.
If it is a yes, have a reason as to why.
Often times I would say yes and THINK something worked and then the closer I got to said event or the more often I had to do said event I realized I didn’t really know why I was doing it. When I started thinking of my yes’s in terms of “yes, because” I started seeing things differently. It’s easy to say “yes” in terms of “why not” but once you starting thinking of it in terms of “why?” your reasoning becomes more clear.
If it was once a yes, but is starting to not work, talk about it.
I had agreed to start adding something to my plate for a client because they asked me and I knew how. As I continued to do it I realized it was something I really didn’t enjoy doing and it would most likely better serve them to have someone else do it moving forward. When I brought this to the client and explained that, while I was capable of doing this for them, it wasn’t really something I intended to do or offer moving forward and that I felt someone else could better execute this service for them. Starting the conversation and sharing my reasoning, they were GRATEFUL for my honesty. It was a win win for both of us because I was able to have a conversation, be honest with myself, and address the issue directly while they were able to bring someone in that could better serve them.
I want to say again to be clear by no means am I saying you need to be selfish and only think of yourself in your decision making process. What I AM saying, however, is that it is hard to truly serve others and bring something to the table if you are feeling unfulfilled and filling your plate with things that don’t serve you when you could be doing something more in line with your goals. The more that I’ve filled my time with things I CHOOSE to do rather than feel obligated to do the more I’ve been able to serve my clients, my significant other, and those around me because I am feeling fulfilled myself. How will you start saying NO?