There was a time, not too long ago actually, that I used to say yes to every opportunity that came my way whether it was a business client or a call for help. I was always the first to answer yes, not necessarily because I wanted to take on another client or help out with that big project but because I felt like I should or more importantly, because I was afraid to say no.
I learned that when I would say yes when I really felt like I should be saying no really left me feeling defeated and drained. I was no longer doing things because I wanted to but because “I had to”. There were times I added it to my plate because I just “knew I could handle it” or times that “it sounded like a fun project”. But you see, when you have too many spinning plates and they are starting to get too full – chaos ensures, plates begin to suffer and you just plain get overwhelmed on the inside and the out.
Earlier this year I shared an experience of being real with myself and passing off a client I knew was too much at my current time in life, so I referred her to my friend Tanya. By passing off that client we all benefitted greatly. I felt good that I said no when I really wanted to and knew I should but I also gave an opportunity to Tanya, one that allowed her to quit her day job and freelance full time. My heart was able to sing from all directions – I was helping myself and my family by saying no and helping Tanya but helping her reach her goal of full time freelancing.
Ever since that really big no, I learned that it feels good to say no when it’s really best for me – and my family.
This also means I get to say yes to things I really want to be doing too. Just last week my friend contacted me to run her social media. She knew it’s something that I do and when she found out she needed a medical procedure I was her go-to gal. She assured me if I didn’t have time I didn’t have to say yes. When we got together this last summer we had to chat that I take on a lot. I let her know that I’ve gotten really great about saying no to things if they aren’t a fit for me, which allows me to say “yes!” to people just like her.
When I say no it opens up opportunities to say yes that I truly want to say yes to.
Here’s another example: I have a business connection I met about 4 years ago who has been talking to me about updating her blog and website for about 2.5 to 3 years. The conversation is always the same and always ends with a “something came up I need to reassess later”. Not only during these times do I usually set time aside for her but I also end up a little disappointed. The last time she came to me, I let her know that I wouldn’t be able to take her on as a client. It wasn’t because I couldn’t, it was that I needed to set that boundary so I didn’t go another round on that merry-go-round. Turns out “something came up” again anyways, but by saying no I was already dodging that bullet.
When I say no to things that just don’t fit right, I get to disconnect myself from unnecessary stressors.
Sometimes it’s smaller things like I say “no!” to my big, long to-do list of work related stuff and housework and yes a big, huge “yes!” to a nap with my toddler because I’m cranky and its what’s needed. On the flip side – sometimes it means a yes to my to-do list because things just have to get done. It’s a balancing act of what needs to be done vs what should be done.
My biggest struggled with saying no has been the fact I have always been a people pleaser. The idea of someone being upset or disappointed in me makes me a bit anxious, but knowing I need to set boundaries helps everyone involved. If I say no to someone because I just can’t take on anymore, sure they may be disappointed but had I said yes they might have suffered by my plate being too full and I might have ended up feeling frustrated, drained and just plain over it. No one wins in that situation. Additionally, I’ve had several people tell me the respected me more for being upfront and sticking to my boundaries.
By saying no when I need to (and want to) I get a feeling of a sense of accomplishment not because I tackled a big project but because I stood up for myself – I set boundaries and I stuck to them.
No one likes to feel overwhelmed and burdened. It makes us all feel burnt out and upset – no one wins when that happens. Not you, your client (or friend!), or your family.
Do you struggle with saying yes to things when your gut is telling you to say no? Tell me in the comments!