“Saying no is not as easy as it sounds.”
I think this is true for not just women but also self-employed, entrepreneurs, and freelancers alike. We can get caught up in the YOLO of the moment. The number of ‘what if’s that your ego fills your mind with is overwhelming. It just seems easier to say yes. I’d like to share a few “could have” and “should have” moments I have had the last month.
I am currently in the thick of saying too many yeses. Overwhelmed with deadlines and client needs, choosing my path so I could control what I do in a day is out the door. It is probably stuffed in the backyard under a pile of gardening supplies that I won’t ever actually get out and use.
There is a price to pay when you say yes.
It’s higher than when you say no. Making a habit of being a yes person adds a level of expectation, not just of what others expect of you, but what you begin to assume is part of your identity.
The life of running your own business can turn into a sense that you are constantly being interviewed or are on the spinning life-long performance review. You feel like you need to be fully ‘on’ all the time.
Now don’t get me wrong, yes, there is a certain level of anxiety and discomfort when you are on your own, riding the rollercoaster of a client to project to another new client again. There is an unknown element. Learning to ride the ‘wave’ of the unexpected is a skill set needed to last in the consulting/freelancing industry. Those who can’t hack it are happy to return to the employed fold. I’ve been doing this for over 24 years, and I can honestly say it does not get easier.
Hence if I had done any of the following a few months back, I wouldn’t be under the gun like I am right now:
- Ask questions. You’re asked to take on an exciting retainer project! So you dive right in, right? Yeah, I did that, and now I am just comprehending the scope of work and time, but the amount of brain space a project is needed. So, take time to engage with the client thoroughly and grasp the amount of time and effort the project will require.
- Inventory current client needs. Reach out to your current slot of clients and have a chat. Talk about the upcoming months and what they could or could not need from you. Let them know that you may be taking on a new retainer and want to make sure you can meet their needs and adjust their expectations of your ability for turnaround.
- Time block. Respect the project’s needs and don’t let one project’s demands push another’s to “I’ll get to it later” status.
- Be honest. Your clients need to know their work will get done, and you need to be honest about your capacity to do so. Engage in dialogue about expectations and find solace in admitting your mistakes and missteps. Avoiding conflict only extends the issue.
- Say no. Get more calculated with what you take on. Be upfront with requests and avoid trying to make them happy. What you can do is offer alternatives if you aren’t able to add more to your plate.
So here I am, right smack dab in the middle of what feels like a tornado some days.
Making it through, I’m getting more comfortable saying no, and tapping into a network of colleagues that I can delegate and refer to.
This is where joining an accountability group like the Creatives Roundtable isn’t just about reaching goals; it’s about joining a community of professional support when you need it.
Written by Crystal Reynolds