Admit it: sometimes it’s hard to say it. Your mom taught you always to be kind and courteous, but just the thought of saying it makes you uneasy. Merely imagining the situation makes your heart beat a million miles a minute, your palms begin to sweat profusely, and your mind starts to race. How could you possibly say it? After all, everyone’s counting on you. That may be–but what about you? And your sanity? Well, rest assured, because we’re here to let you k[no]w that yes, you CAN say NO. It’s necessary to politely decline at times if you care at all about your mental health. Let’s face it: no is the new yes.
Whether you’re a small business owner, freelancer, entrepreneur, creative, or all of the above, there comes a time in your life where you’ll have to say it for the world to hear. Understandably, you may want to be the “nice guy” and be there for whoever or whatever the case may be, but ultimately, you’ve gotta put your foot down.
We’ve all had that prospect that seems like an easy job. But somewhere deep down in the trenches of your mind, you get the hint that they might be one of those clients. Perhaps they expect you to do a $1,000 project for the low, “discounted” price of $100. Or even better! They just finished the first draft of their manuscript and expect the editing process to be completed and the book ready to publish by next week.
Yeah...how about a “NO!”
Maybe in the beginning when you were young, innocent, and full of hope, you thought that continually saying “yes” would actually pay the bills. But let’s face it: that ship has sailed. We all know the truth. Life has its challenges as well as an abundance of people who get a little too used to you saying yes all the time. Well, it’s up to you to draw the line. Taking accountability is key. If you’re feeling so overwhelmed that you want to explode, take a step back and analyze the situation. Why are you so stressed? Are you dealing with a lot of BS, most of it nonsense you agreed to just because you felt pressured at the time to say yes? You’re an adult now; it’s up to you to own up to the situation and take a stand when necessary. Enough is enough.
So, how do you do it? In today’s day and age, effective communication is everything. You don’t have to be abrasive and shout out, “NO!” whenever someone is gearing up to ask you for a favor. Etiquette is vital, especially as a professional. Instead, if a new client asks you to edit and revamp their entire website content, SEO optimization included, take a moment. Deep breaths help. Take a long, extensive breath before impulsively responding right away.
Whereas you may want to exclaim, “Really? And how the f*%& do you expect me to do that?
As if I don’t have other clients/projects/personal life to attend to?!” That brief moment where you remind yourself to breathe and collect your thoughts will make a world of difference. With the utmost poise, you may find yourself instead of saying something like, “Well, Karen, I’m flattered that you think I can turnaround a project like this so quickly. However, I pride myself on quality over quality, which does take some time. If we’re going to revamp your whole site, which is also essentially rebranding your company, it’s a process that involves the right strategy, time, and patience. After all, if you’re going to do something, do it right. Wouldn’t you agree?”
(Which of course, she will, and then you’ll give her a rough estimate as to when the project will be complete, which she’ll gladly accept).
Little things like taking a moment to breathe and collect yourself will make a world of difference in how you react. Think about it: if a friend asks you to help them move this weekend, but you’ve got a huge deadline to meet, you may get so caught up in the moment and blurt out, “I’d love to!” without even thinking. Then, once the words escape your mouth and your friend’s expression immediately changes to one of pure gratitude (and relief), you mentally kick yourself in the shin. Hard.
But–take a moment first, really think about the situation as well as your responsibilities to adhere to, and you’ll find yourself reacting much differently. “I would if I could, but I’ve got a few project deadlines to meet this weekend. I wish I could help; maybe I can stop by Sunday night with some wine and pizza to celebrate, though?” Wine and pizza (and chocolate) solve all. Your friend will understand, and you guys will bond after the fact, once you've both accomplished your respective tasks for the weekend.
So, it’s not that difficult. Again, for your own sake, saying no is necessary at times. It’s not selfish to put yourself first. It’s a reality. You need to put yourself first before you can help anyone else.
The best part? By saying "no" to others or unnecessary obligations, you're carving out more time for YOU. Use this time wisely. Take ten minutes out of each day to just write. Whether it's writing about your day thus far, sharing some insight on an issue you or a friend is dealing with, discussing how hungry you are, etc., you're practicing those writing skills. Slowly but surely, you're building up the confidence you need to share your story with the world.