What’s really funny is that I see posts about learning to say “no” all the time. But they are ALL geared towards children. Every parent knows the value of being able to say no to your child and mean it. Set those boundaries, stick to them , and you and your kids will be happier and better off. But what about you? I’m talking to YOU, the fully grown adult who says yes to everyone and everything? Oh yea, don’t think I don’t know a people pleaser when I see one.
Me? I do not do well with idle time. This means that I’m often over booked, over committed, and have had very little sleep. Since I have insomnia anyway, why not use it? So I tend to say yes to helping everyone and their mom because I have time… Or, at least, I have time in my mind. In reality, I have none.
This has lead to me being massively over committed in the blogging world too. I had a full time job until recently, blogged full time, I write for a large number of websites regularly and agree to a lot of PR stuff. But you know what? I really don’t have to do all of those things and why I felt, at some point, that I did is beyond me.
About a month ago, I decided to take a blogging hiatus. I have a lot going on in my life and I simply couldn’t keep up with the blog too… Or at least, I couldn’t keep up with my blog and continue doing what I was doing, saying yes to everyone. And you know what I learned? The emails will keep coming, even if you say no (politely). Bloggers will still contact you, PR people will still pester you, and (barring some major apocalyptic event) your blog will still be there.
I love to blog. In fact, given the choice, I would have kept blogging and ignored my home business. But that wasn’t an option. Don’t get me wrong, in a perfect world, I’ll have time for both equally. But for the time being, I needed to focus on one thing at a time. So what did I do? I made a list, because that is what I do!
- Walking- I need to be able to walk and get used to my limited mobility before I do ANYTHING ELSE
- Make it to all of my appointments- Still focusing on the walking. I needed to focus on my health and make it a priority (possibly for the first time in my ENITRE life)
- Business- gotta focus on the income generator. Gotta make sure that the business is running and doing ok.
- Relax!!!!!- I’ll freely admit that I failed pretty epically at this.
- Blog- and a low five at that.
So, with my priorities in line, the next step was to say no.
But guess what, like anything else, it takes PRACTICE.
How did I go about this? Easy! (No, it wasn’t, but it got easier as I practiced)
First I drafted a professionally worded “Thanks but no thanks” email and went through my email and replied to EVERY SINGLE PR EMAIL. It was painful. I get nearly 150 emails a day and would love to say yes to everyone, but I can’t. And even the ones I really thought would rock, I said no to. I have enough going on right now without being obligated to 20 more people. I continued to do this through my entire hiatus.
Second, I said no to bloggers. I didn’t lack requests, but I couldn’t commit to them while still focusing on me. I kindly said no. Done and done.
Third, I stopped promoting anything that obligated me to anyone. No ads on the blog, no freelance writing work. Nothing. And trust me when I tell you that that was hard to do because I really love to write for sites. But I simple couldn’t allow myself to commit.
Fourth, I repeated steps one through three. It got easier. Suddenly, I didn’t mind emailing a kind refusal to PR companies. Frankly, you don’t have to say yes to everyone. And you are allowed to be picky. And
The same goes for people who need stuff from you. It’s just not the right time and that is OK.
I also found that I had to start saying no in my business too. Me? I’m soft. I’d love to sponsor every giveaway request I get. I’d love to make that for you for free. I’d love to just give away my stuff. But I can’t. I have to make money on what I’m selling and I have to focus on the bottom line. When you love doing something, it’s really easy to get sucked into wanting to do it for free or for less or just because you like someone. But you can’t and it’s ok.
Believe it or not, I’m still struggling to say no, but it’s definitely a skill that is valuable to have. It’s not easy. I think it’s probably a harder lesson to learn as an adult VS as a child. But I think we adults forget the value of setting boundaries for ourselves. It’s easy to remember to set firm ground rules for visitors, children, and even pets, but not always for US. And we need boundaries too; if for no other reason than to save us from ourselves.