Have you ever said “yes” to a project (no matter how small) and really dreaded it? In fact, you end up wondering why you didn’t just say no?
Creatives often face a unique challenge when it comes to saying “no”: knowing what to prioritize and not letting fear of missing out take over. When you say yes for the wrong reasons (even if we’ll intentioned), you’re working against the things you really want while damaging your own self-trust to follow your own intuition.
Setting healthy boundaries around your energy and time will help you focus on the projects and tasks that matter most. It enables you to manage your time and energy more effectively, and make more informed decisions. Not to mention, learning to say no can help to boost self-confidence and provide a sense of control over your own life and decisions.
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Knowing What’s Important to You
Are you clear on what’s important to you? How do you decide when a project is Yes or No? This is an important area to explore and understand or it will be difficult, if not impossible to make clear decisions. Prioritizing projects, tasks, and opportunities that fit into your larger goals will help you to focus on the right things and make it easier to say no to the things that don’t.
Preparing Yourself to Say No
Having the right mindset is essential when it comes to saying no. There’s no need to feel guilty or shame for politely declining. Remind yourself that saying no doesn’t mean you don’t care, and that it is okay to prioritize what matters most to you.
It’s helpful to have a couple handy polite yet firm phrases that you can use when declining offers and invitations. This will help you to be more confident in your decision and make saying no easier.
- “Thank you for considering me for this project. Unfortunately, I am currently unavailable to take on any additional work at this time.”
- “I appreciate the opportunity, but I have other commitments that I need to prioritize at the moment.”
- “I am flattered that you thought of me for this project, but I am unable to take on any new work at this time. I would be happy to refer you to someone else who may be able to help.”
- “I am not able to commit to this project at this time, but I would love to work with you in the future if the opportunity arises.”
Practicing Saying No
Once you have identified what matters to you and prepared yourself to say no, it’s time to start practicing. Start small, by saying no to invitations or offers that you don’t feel strongly about. With each no, you’ll gain more confidence and become more comfortable.
As you gain experience and more comfort with declining small requests, it will become easier to say no to more larger opportunities. Remember to focus on what matters to you and don’t let fear of missing out take over.
It Takes Courage
Having the courage to say no often means facing the fear of disappointing others. It’s important to remember that everyone is responsible for their own decisions and that saying no to something doesn’t mean you don’t care about the person or their project. If you find yourself stuck and unsure of if you want to say yes or no, buy yourself time by saying something like “let me check my commitments and get back to you.” You can also ask them to do some work, such as email you with the project details, who would be involved, the budget, etc. If they are serious, they will email you details. If not, you won’t likely hear back from them.
A Skill You Can Learn
Saying no is as important as yes. Maybe even more so. It’s also a skill. By knowing what’s important to you and having the courage to honor your own wants and needs, you honor your own needs and wants. Remember that saying “no” you accelerate and find more joy in what you do, by not spending time on the things you don’t.