I started off this year saying yes to everything. Well ok, not just this year- I've been struggling as a "yes!" "sure!" "can-do!" -er for many many years, probably since I was kid, but especially since I've been working for myself. Here's a post from May 2009 lamenting on how I'm just not sure how to say no to things and how it leads me to having too many commitments and becoming super overwhelmed.
And I guess it takes me years to get the point and finally learn how to make changes in my life, because that's exactly what happened to me at the beginning of 2011, again. I had just started taking clients for Miss Modish PR and I didn't want to turn down any business for fear that the business wouldn't keep coming (you know how that goes, other freelancers out there...)
So I said yes yes yes to every job, every client and every opportunity that came my way. I scheduled them out as best I could, booked myself all the way out thru the summer by the time February came.
And when you do something like that, scheduling far off into the future, it's really easy to underestimate the amount of time that projects will take to complete. And really easy to overestimate your own abilities to be some sort of superwoman and get everything done.
And when those two mis-estimations meet each other in the crowded hallways of your mind, well, that's when the anxiety attacks and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning start happening.
And to think, it all began from saying yes too many times to too many things.
So now, I've learned a little about saying no.
When it became apparent that my own sanity was at risk because of the situation I put myself in by saying yes to everything, I went on a fiendish rampage of "NO" in an effort to take my life back.
I said no to every new client that inquired. I said no to every super cool project that people asked me to participate in (well, except for one :) I even had to say no to clients that I already had scheduled on my calendar, who had given me a down payment and were excited to get to work with me- that is a totally ugharific thing to do!
Can you imagine the shame and disappointment I felt when I had to write and tell them I couldn't do the project afterall? I felt like I was saying, "Hi. I'm an idiot who severely overestimated my time and abilities and out of fear I said yes to your project, scared that the next project might not come along, but in reality I don't have time to do it, unless I never sleep again, and in order to stop my panic attacks, I'm going to have to send you a refund and call it a day. Okey dokey?"
But you know what else I felt, tailing right up behind those feelings of guilt and disappointment in myself?
Strong, unadulterated and joyful relief.
I felt the weight of the future starting to lift off my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe again, have time for some life again, like I could finally see the light at the end of the busyness tunnel. And the more I said no to things (and started getting more comfortable saying no to things) the more I could see how much the good feeling of taking my time back outweighed the initial guilty feelings.
And I realized, saying no to things helps you access your power (as Danielle LaPorte would say.) Saying no sets your boundaries. It shows that you value your time and your priorities. It's a reminder to yourself that you can choose what you want for your life.
And all of that just has to be worth the icky feelings that sometimes come along with saying no. Right?
Now, when I'm trying to decide whether yes or no on something...
I ask myself:
- do you really have time for this project? If not, is it something you'd be willing to create the time and space for? Why?
- maybe it's a "good opportunity", but is it an opportunity that will help move you forward along your path, business or life wise?
- is it going to be fun? Are you going to enjoy doing it? Learn from it somehow?
If the answer is no to any of those things, then I politely say no to the offer. If the answer is yes, than I can wholeheartedly say yes and really focus on the projects that are the most meaningful and exciting to me.
Do you struggle saying no? Have you ever become overwhelmed from saying yes to too many commitments? What are you going to do to make sure that doesn't happen again?
She's sharing some great tips on how to set your boundaries!