You may hear that all successful people have learned how to say no and prioritize their time, but when you are just starting a new business, college, or moving to a new town, it can feel critical to take advantage of every single opportunity. I am here to remind you that you don’t. While it is important to put yourself out there and commit to growing, you should not do that by sacrificing your health or your sanity.
I have the ability to just go go go until I can’t and then I hit a wall and everything stops for a while, and not in a good way. One of my favorite examples of this is when I came back to college after a year and a half away. I took on everything. I took a full 14-credit course load, started a job, got an internship, joined a sorority, and went to every social event I could fit in. By the time fall break rolled around, all I did was watch Netflix and eat junk food. Jumping back into that kind of rigorous schedule was tough. I dreaded having classes start back up because doing nothing for a whole week had felt that good. I didn’t learn much from this example, at least not right away. It took a few more burnouts for me to really learn my lesson (and honestly I am still learning every day). Since graduating, working full time and leaving to start my own business, there are a few things I have learned about saying no. I hope this helps you avoid future burnout!
Never say yes to something you know you won’t have time for. Whether this is attending an event, writing an article, or helping a friend with her resume, if you know you don’t have the time, then just say that right away. If you struggle with saying no try this “I would love to help you with ____, but I already have a lot on my plate right now and I won’t be able to.” For a long time, I struggled to say no up front. I would say “yes of course!” and then a day or two later send the inevitable text or email about how I was too busy. Don’t put yourself in that position if you can help it.
If you did what I used to do and said yes and then realized it was all too much, that’s ok! We have all been there (too often). Just be honest and as timely as possible.
Only say yes if you honestly want to. Sometimes there can be a lot of pressure to help friends or to try to network for career growth, but I promise most of the time it isn’t that important. As my Mom says “I don’t say no because I’m so busy. I say no because I don’t want to be busy.” Let yourself say yes to the things that bring value to your life, and let the rest go.
A few more ways to say no:
“Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I don’t have time to take on another project right now.”
“I am so honored you would think of me for this ____, unfortunately, I have a lot of other stuff going on right now. Have you thought about reaching out to ___?”
“No thank you.”
I have always been pretty good at setting boundaries with people in my life. I have been able to tell family and friends when I have too much going on for certain obligations, and I have figured out that line between being helpful and being taken advantage of when it comes to working. There are always going to be new circumstances that will require you to reevaluate your boundaries but here is how I like to look at it.
If a relationship isn’t good for you, don’t be afraid to say so. If you are finding yourself drained from a relationship more often than feeling excited, feel free to tell that person, seek resolution and if they aren’t receptive, let it go. It’s okay to let relationships go that are no longer bringing you joy, especially if they are tearing you down.
Be sure you are giving as much as you are receiving, especially in a professional relationship. If you ever feel that you are putting in a lot of time and energy and either not being paid what you are worth, not getting the same attention you are giving, or just going unappreciated, it is time to say something! The most frequent way I see this come up is in regards to being paid for what you are worth. If you feel your employer or client is taking advantage of your time, set up a meeting and let them know that either you need to pull back on certain commitments they are asking of you or you would like to be paid more. If you are professional and honest, the response will be positive.
“Just because you agreed to a project, rate, or date once doesn’t mean you have agreed to it for the rest of your life.”
Just because you agreed to a project, rate, or date once doesn’t mean you have agreed to it for the rest of your life. If for example you helped host an event last year and the organizers want your help again, you don’t have to say yes! I know this may seem like a simple concept, but so many times we get stuck in situations and we just don’t give ourselves permission to leave or stop.
As you grow your own business or work towards finishing your bucket list, or start college, you will learn to value your time. Give yourself permission to be picky and frugal as you decide how to spend it.
For more inspiration, tips for your business, and how to start living in the right now instead of the right time be sure to sign up here! (you’ll even get a little surprise in your inbox that day)