LEARNING THE ART OF SAYING NO
Say no is not something I have been very good at.
I love taking on new clients, I love seeing my family, I love doing workshops, I love spending time with my friends, I love producing my podcast.
But at what cost?
Throughout the year, there are the peaks and troughs that come with running a business. Some months are really good, and some months aren’t so great.
To mitigate any risks, to keep things interesting, and to achieve financial control over month to month earnings, I have created several income streams in addition to my client retainers – consultations, website projects, copywriting and workshops.
Alone, this is plenty to keep me busy!
However, throw my travel blog, my new business Smør Store, my podcast, being a mum and a wife, home life, and social life into the mix, and I can let myself get pulled into a million directions very easily.
After three months of back to back workshops, daily client work, releasing a new podcast series, and social activities every weekend, I felt utterly drained last week. I could feel myself crumbling fast. And something had to change. Fast.
Recognising these feelings, I said no to catching up with my girlfriends for lunch over the weekend. It was so difficult saying no. But I knew I had to give myself one weekend without any plans or commitments. And it wasn’t until I said no that I realised how bad I have been at saying no, and yet, how good it made me feel when I did.
And guess what? My plan-free, commitment-free weekend was heaven.
Jason and I went out for breakfast (something we haven’t done in ages). We cooked delicious meals. We cleaned the house. We went to the beach. We got our firepit working and enjoyed a glass of red whilst making s’mores. We watched movies on the couch. We slept in. We went for a rainy day hinterland drive. Don’t worry, Dusty was with us the whole time. And it was utterly perfect and highly relaxing. Not having to be somewhere at a certain time on the weekend was refreshing, and if I wanted to stop and smell the flowers, I could. It was truly liberating.
It taught me that the art of saying no is something I need to getter better at. So how am I going to do that? By making a few promises to myself. Read on to find out what they are.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Instead of saying yes to everything, I am going to choose quality over quantity and say no more often. In order for me to do this, I need to look at opportunities when they are presented and make sure I choose the best option for me, and not just say yes - as I have always done.
Direct Action: I will do less workshops, increase the price of my tickets and align my workshops and personal brand with likeminded venues and partners.
PLANNING IS KEY
Planning is something I take pride in but I only plan month to month. Because of this, I tend not to see the forest for the trees, and therefore say yes to everything. And find out when it’s too late that I have overcommitted myself. Not great.
Direct Action: I will buy a yearly planner that I can put up on a wall in my studio so I can visually see and map out my projects, workshops, podcast and plans for the year. This is so I can catch myself before I say yes too much!
DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY
I love helping people, it’s in my blood. But saying yes constantly is not good for my overall health, happiness and wellbeing. It leaves me so drained. I need to refocus and do more of what makes me happy.
Direct Action: I seem to find myself saying yes to designing and developing websites for small businesses. It’s nice to have something different to work on, but it doesn’t make me happy. I have decided I won’t be designing websites for small businesses anymore; I’ll get my website developer to take on those projects from now on. Instead I will focus on what makes me happy.
BE KIND TO MYSELF
I feel guilty all the time that I am not doing enough. It’s not healthy. Working myself to the ground gives me a false feeling of productivity and accomplishment. If anything, I just feel stretched, tired and unhappy.
Direct Action: I need to stop taking on extra work and start doing things for myself. As I mentioned above, I am not taking on any more website projects and I am going to do less workshops. Instead, I am going to start doing more things for myself – like going to the beach mid-week for a lunch time swim, booking that massage I have been dreaming about for months, and treating myself to breakfast at my favourite cafe.
MONTHLY TECH FREE DAY
Even though YCS is a social media content studio, I am not on my phone that much. I have developed really great systems and processes that have allowed me freedom from my phone. But what I do need is a day off, once a month to fully switch off from all tech.
Direct Action: At the beginning of the month, I will choose a day for “me time” where I will completely switch off from emails, my laptop, my phone and reruns of The Office. And of course, I will tell my husband and parent’s, so they don’t worry about me. I will get outside and go for a hike or spend the day at the beach. I will get crafty at home and work on some DIY projects. I will visit my favourite thrift stores on the Sunshine Coast. I’ll go to the movies solo and eat a Toblerone without feeling guilty.
PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH
By practising all of the above, I will be in a much better position to do more of what makes me happy, carve out time for myself and avoid spreading myself too thin. By being more picky with what I take on, plus a bit of planning, I’ll be able to say no with confidence and I look forward to checking in and seeing the results in a few months.
Direct Action: Revisit these commitments in a month’s time to make sure I am staying on track. And again, in three months’ time and six months’ time.
Words by Jaharn Quinn.