I deemed 2017 the year to build my foundation. My goal is to work on projects and put my energy towards things and people that will build the foundation of my business and this blog and podcast. To do this, I have to say no to certain things when they don’t serve me well and set my boundaries. Because I choose to say no to the wrong things (for me), I have the time and energy (hopefully) to say yes when the right opportunities come along.

Of course, saying yes means I might be scared to take the leap, but I don’t want to have an excuse to say no, because I can claim busyness, when it is the right thing for me.  For example, I got asked to speak about copywriting and online content. I was so scared, I wanted to say no, but one of my goals is to actually go out and speak to groups. I couldn’t fall back on an excuse of having something else on my plate if I felt I wasn’t ready, because I had made space to take on opportunities like this one.

Say “No” to Make Room

I have been approached with opportunities that are just not right for me. The people involved and the organizations just didn’t fit me or my goals. Often times, the people offering up the opportunity needed me more than I needed them, and it just didn’t fit my overall vision. In those cases, I make it my policy to decline.

When it comes to business decisions especially, I need to decide what is worth focusing my attention toward and what may result in some type of return on investment (either payment, exposure, or something else I deem useful). If I don’t stand to gain any of those things the way I want or need them, I will decline.

Writing and creative work is very personal. While I would like to believe that I can write towards everything and for everyone, I know that is simply not true. My voice and writing style just will not work for some brands, and I might not know nearly enough about an industry to really do good work for the client without A LOT of research on my end. More research means more work for most likely less pay. I have to know where those lines are so I know how to handle my workload.

Not Everything You’re Offering is Right For You

You don’t have to say yes to everything that comes your way. One part of being a business owner is learning how to say no to the right things. I know it’s easy to cast a wide net and feel like you need to say yes to everything, but you will just burn yourself out that way. Saying no saves your sanity.

Someone I trusted wanted me to get involved with a networking group. I went to a few meetings, but the group just didn’t feel right to me for various reasons. I politely tried to tell my contact I did not want to join the group. Disappointed, he tried to sell me on the group again. The reason he wanted me in the group was because he trusted me and wanted me to do the social media for the group, which is desperately needed. That meant I had to commit more time and energy to a group I didn’t want to invest in.

I dwelled on the situation for a few weeks. I kept thinking about saying yes, and all I could think about is how I would be resentful for saying yes. I had been in the situation before with former clients and could feel my instincts tugging me in the same direction.  I have also talked to other friends about their involvement in networking and nonprofit groups they felt were taking advantage of them without any payback, and I had advised them to take steps back in the organizations to where they felt comfortable. I needed to take my own advice, didn’t I?

Don’t Live in Resentment

After thinking it over, I decided I would rather live with someone being disappointed in me for saying no than to live with resentment towards something or someone I didn’t want to do work for. I reflected on all the times I resented saying yes to something I simply didn’t want to do. The reason I usually said yes was much less about me and more about the other person, and what they thought about me if I declined to do the favor for them. Honestly, I didn’t want to be disliked and therefore did things that weren’t in my best interest, simply to stay in the good graces of people who would have judged me poorly otherwise.

I thought about all the energy wasted and anxiety I would experience because I didn’t want to disappoint someone who I was growing resentful of. Most of the times in those situations where I sat with resentment, I was being taken advantage of and didn’t set my boundaries properly.

Just Say No–Even When It’s Hard

Ultimately, I said no to the group. It was hard, and I felt like I was letting someone down. However, it felt more like letting someone down when you’ve only been on a couple dates instead of letting them down six months into the relationship and they’ve fallen in love with you. It feels better thinking about it in those terms.

It’s not you, it’s me.

I’m just going to hurt you in the end anyway.

Better we part ways now.

This year, I have been doing a lot of different things without committing to one particular thing. I feel like I’m shopping around for opportunities in a way. There are a couple of things I’m really excited that I am investing in. Besides the one or two things, though, I’m really just putting myself out there to see what might come my way. However, I am trying to say no to the wrong things (for me). That way, when the right opportunity comes along, I have the time and energy to devote to it.  Because I never know where the right opportunity to say yes to will come from, and I want to be ready to take it on.