Learning To Say “No”

learning to say "no"

Back when I was just a young gun in my 20’s, I said “yes” to practically everything. Meet friends for drinks, take on another project, travel out of town – or out of the country – on a whim. the idea of learning to say “no” never even entered my mind.

It was so bad, my email got hacked by someone sending around an email that said, “Help! I’m in Ukraine and have lost my phone and all my identification, I need you to wire me some money to get back home!” and instead of my husband calling me to ask if I’d been hacked, he called to ask where I was and to make sure I still had my phone…because the idea that I had jumped a flight to Ukraine then misplaced my phone and all my identification wasn’t really that far fetched. I said “yes” to everything. 

Fast forward a few years and I’m almost completely the opposite: I now say “no” to practically everything.

Sounds like a pretty depressing way to lead your life, doesn’t it? Not quite.

The thing I didn’t realize in my youth: “yes” is a commitment. Every “yes” requires a whole pack of “no’s” to work. By saying “yes”, you are automatically saying “no” to something else.

This whole “saying no” thing really hit me this year. I realized I’ve built my business on a false foundation – a foundation that left me unhappy and stretched far too thin. But how do I know what I should and shouldn’t be saying no to?

“Every “yes” is a commitment. Every “yes” requires a whole pack of “no’s” to work. By saying “yes”, you are automatically saying “no” to something else.”

So I made a list of everything that was draining the energy out of me and put each item into one of five categories. In this episode, I break down each of these categories and what it means to begin saying “no” to unnecessary burdens in your life.

When should I be saying “no”? 

Well, probably more often than you realize. In his book “Essentialism” Greg McKeown says, “If it isn’t a ‘hell yes!’, it’s a ‘no’.”

You might be thinking, “There are always going to be some things that just need done. I can’t just say “no” to bookkeeping. Even though it’s definitely not a “hell yes” it’s still gotta get done!”

And you’re absolutely right – and that’s where outsourcing comes in (but more on that later). In the meantime, here are a few examples of when we should be saying “no”:

  • Toxic people who bring you down.
  • Social media that ruins your confidence and motivation.
  • Another project that doesn’t pay what you deserve.
  • Internet distractions (hello, Facebook arguments).
  • Things others consider important, but we don’t.
  • Housework or other minor tasks that would honestly be perfectly fine if they get done later.
  • Clothes you never wear, toys your kids never use (donate).

Where do I start? 

First, make a list of everything that drains the energy out of you, and I mean everything. This could be a messy house, too much work on your plate, never having a vacation, or just that one person that is constantly taking, taking, taking.

Next, put each item into one of five categories:

  1. Things you say “yes” to because you have to, not necessarily because you’re excited to (bookkeeping, house-cleaning, childcare, etc.).
  2. Things you say “yes” to because you feel guilty otherwise (picking up someone from the airport at 5:00 am, giving a free photoshoot to a friend).
  3. Things you do strictly because you need the money (extra family photoshoots when you’re trying to be a wedding photographer, piano lessons while you’re working on an album).
  4. Things you have no idea why you’re doing (cat-sitting for your ex-coworker).
  5. Things that stress you out, but you let slide anyway (you hate having a cluttered desk, but you have more pressing things to attend to).

Awesome! Let’s examine these categories:

In this episode, I break down each of these categories and what it means to begin saying “no” to unnecessary burdens in your life. We cover the importance of outsourcing, confronting guilt and standing up for yourself in situations where you just flat out don’t want to do the task at hand!

I’ll admit, I’m still a “yes” person. 

And most likely always will be. I have a bag that’s always packed, my passport sitting right in the front pocket. I’m always ready to say “yes”, and now that I’m learning to say “no”, those “yes’s” will be even more amazing, because I’ll now have time to actually enjoy them!

So what about you? What are you going to tackle first? When you made these lists, what items stood out? What was glaringly obvious that you need to start saying no to? Tell me about it in the comments!

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Megan

    November 6, 2018

    It’s ok to say no if it doesn’t feel right.

    • Reply

      jennamartinphoto

      November 13, 2018

      Absolutely!

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