"No" is a Complete Sentence

no is a complete sentence

This week I am speaking to all the people pleasers and over-committers!

I used to be well known for making plans and then cancelling them right before said plans were supposed to happen. Why? Well, because I honestly didn't want to do said thing to begin with, but didn't know how to let someone know that. As a people pleaser, I wanted people to like me and didn't do a good job of respecting my own boundaries.

Contrary to what you may believe, you don't have to take every opportunity someone offers you and you don't have to do every activity that may come up on your social calendar. 

In case you haven't heard, "no" is a complete sentence. And it's also not a 4-letter word. There is an idea, that I am going to label as a combination of guilt and shame, that we somehow have to take every opportunity that's thrown our way or we will miss out on something important!

Part of being a creative entrepreneur is the fear that if you say "no" to something then you may never be asked again. When income security comes from people saying "yes" to you and your products or services, it can feel weird and uncomfortable to say no to someone else!

I get asked to do things daily that either I can't due to time or financial constraints or simply don't want to do. I would imagine that you do too. In order to be able to really invest in your life and business, you have to learn to get comfortable telling people "no" or you will inevitably and maybe unintentionally not be able to do what you really love.

FOMO (fear of missing out) can be real for this, especially when you're just starting out and don't want to miss out on an opportunity for exposure or getting paid. It may feel like you don't have the ability to turn down any offer that comes your way yet, but by taking every job, you are compromising yourself and your well-being.

Doing things you don't want to based on finances can be stressful. If you have to make a certain amount of money each month to pay the bills, you may have to do things you don't want to, but I'm not going to get into that today.

When it comes to business, it is not helpful to your long-term vision to do things that are sidetracking from your goals. If you are a wedding photographer and don't want to do newborn shoots anymore, it's okay to say "no" to those. Even if it's for someone you're friends with! I have gotten requests, and usually from people who know me, about certain painting projects I don't do anymore. When I started getting those, I felt like I was letting these people down, but I chose to tell them kindly, "Hey, I don't do that anymore...here's someone who does." Here's a tip about that: if you aren't interested in a particular job or client, they will always be thankful for you referring them to someone who is. Not only will you be helpful to them, but you will be referring business along to someone else too!

Doing things you aren't committed to 100% will show. Through the work you create and through the way you feel. If you've ever taken on something you didn't really want to do, you know the regret and dread I'm talking about. You put it off and put it off and then it may be less quality than something you loved. Or you get a weird "red flag" from someone and choose to hang out or spend time with the anyways, and regret it. Anxiety can creep in when your plate becomes too full, especially if it's full of things you don't truly want to do. You can easily slip into creative fatigue or burnout too.

Note: I am not saying you will only be able to do what you love, because we all have to do things we don't love from time to time. What I am saying, is that if you have the choice to NOT do something you don't want to, take it! If you get to a point where you do say no, it can feel like you need to validate it with a "but" or a "because" in hopes of sparing someone's feelings or making sure they're not upset. 

Here are a few simple ways to start becoming more confident with saying "no":

1) Don't Make it Personal-What I've found is that most people are really understanding. It is rare to tell someone you can't do something than to pretend you want to. The times when I would make plans and then cancel them made a lot of people mad, but they wouldn't have been mad if I had simply said to begin with "I don't want to do that." Unless you truly don't like someone, it's not personal. It's okay to explain that you can't do something, but you don't owe anyone else an explanation if you don't want to.

2) Trust your intuition-go with your gut. If your automatic response when hearing about something isn't a "HELLLL YES!" then it's a no. If you're not invested, trust yourself enough to say no. It can be hard not to second guess yourself, but know that if it doesn't feel right it, it isn't. You were not made to make everyone happy, that's not your job!

3) Set Boundaries & Prioritize-this applies to a lot of different situations, but one example of setting boundaries could be the number of clients you accept or things you allow yourself to do each week. If you are over that limit, then your automatic response will be "no". Knowing that you have a limit for whatever it is you're working on will also help you be able to prioritize what it is that you actually want to do. If you know you can take 5 clients a month, you will be more selective about the ones you do take! 

4) Value your Time-When you value your time and the time of others, you will begin to find that it's easier to prioritize what matters. You cannot do it all and be it all. Pick what fits into your schedule to avoid over scheduling yourself. If there isn't time to get it done or you would have to miss something that's important to you, don't do it!

5) Practice! The saying practice makes perfect, applies to this too. If you practice saying "no" and role play situations with someone you trust, you will be more confident when a situation comes up that you want to say "no" to. It may feel silly, but the more you repeat an action, the easier it becomes. Be confident with your "no". 

With whom or what situations do you struggle with saying "no"? What's the hardest thing about saying "no" for you?

I hope this was helpful for you! Be sure to join the FREE Facebook Community and continue the discussion there!  What other struggles are you currently battling with as you navigate your small business journey? I would love to help! Feel free to email me (rachel@racheltenny.com) with any questions you may have or topics you would like to see covered in future posts.