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When to Say No

Are you a “yes” person?

I know I used to say yes to lots of opportunities. 

Some of them moved the needle in my business; some did not.

Some I said yes to because the opportunities were cool. I didn’t want to miss out on cool. 

If I look back I probably should have said no more often or at least sooner than I did.

If you really think about it, every time you do say yes to something you are saying no to something else.

Good things come to you when you learn to say no. Here are some ways to know when to say no.

Know your priorities

It’s important to figure out when you should say yes and when you should say no.

To do that you need to know what your core priorities are. 

Priority is a strange word. It means “the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important.” Can you really have more than one priority?

If push came to shove, you could likely narrow a list to one priority. If you do find it hard, take a look at your calendar. You’ll see where you spend your time. You might be surprised by the answer, too.

Keeping that in mind lets you decide when you should say yes or no.

Maintain your boundaries

Setting and keeping boundaries lets you communicate clearly with your clients, customers, vendors, and even your family. This leads to people respecting you and your business.

You can set business boundaries, such as office/studio hours.

You can set boundaries that fit with your time blocks. For example, you do planning on the first Tuesday of the month and it’s non-negotiable. Or maybe you always do financials on Friday morning. By setting boundaries, this lets you run your business as you see fit.  

Set boundaries around your time off, not limited to vacations. If you don’t work weekends or you don’t work on Mondays, be sure that your clients know this so they don’t expect an answer from you. You need downtime to be at your best.

Maybe you started your business and set boundaries. Are you still maintaining them? Maybe your business has grown/changed and you adjust them.

Take time to re-evaluate your boundaries and then be sure you’ve clearly communicated them. 

Negative energy

It is so easy to get caught up in negative energy around us. People can be needy and have problems. They want you to solve their problems or at least listen to them complain. Meanwhile, this sucks the energy out of you. If you get asked to do something that causes you to feel in a negative way, say no.

Listen your gut

Your intuition is usually not far off.

If something feels not quite right in your body, be prepared to say no. Your body has a “mind” of its own, so learn to listen to it. It’s designed to protect your stress levels.

If it’s the right opportunity, it may come around again. 

Be realistic

You may already have a lot on your plate. Some of it got there by saying yes when you should have said no. 

Don’t add more to your agenda than you can handle. You’ll be overwhelmed, not do a good job, and possibly get ill. 

Warren Buffet’s 5/25 rule

I read this story in several places on the Internet. Investor Warren Buffet has a rule that’s called the 5/25 rule. You write down the top 25 things you wanted to do in the next few years or during your lifetime. You can decide the time frame that works for you. Go back and circle the top five, those that are most important. Now that the list was divided into two, you know where your priorities are. What is in that list of 20 should be avoided until you succeed at items 1-5. That makes it easy to say no now.

Now, just say no

If you’ve come to the conclusion, you need to say no to something, it’s that simple.

Just say no. It is a complete sentence.

I know that you often want to cushion that no, so try any variations of the following:

I appreciate your asking me, but this just doesn’t fit into my plans right now.

I’m overbooked and can’t give this the attention it deserves.

No, thank you.

It’s your turn!

How do you decide to say no and what is your favorite way to say no?

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