“No”. That’s a difficult word to say, especially if someone is asking you for a favor. You don’t want to come across as rude, lazy, or selfish. You tell yourself it’s easier to say “yes” and follow through than to say “no” and deal with the social awkwardness. Maybe that’s true at first, but the more you say “yes”, the more you take on, and the more people will ask of you because they assume you have the time.
You keep saying “yes”, and tasks keep piling on. Not only are you not doing yourself any favors, but you won’t be able to reliably follow through with all your favors which will just upset other people more than if you just said “no” in the first place. On the flip side, you don’t want to be the person who says “no” to everything, you just want to be selective about what you choose to say “yes” to.
Saying “no” in regards to potential clients or jobs can be just as difficult, if not more so, especially since common wisdom says to never turn down an opportunity. Growing a business around your passion requires focus, and it requires leaving available the time and the energy to have that focus. You can’t have that if you can’t afford to say “no”.
Being in a Position to Say “No”
Before you can say “no”, you have to be in the position to say “no”. If you’re relying on your passion to pay your bills but you’re not getting enough work to make ends meet you’re going to get desperate, you’ll have no choice but to accept any work that comes your way. If that’s what you want to do then that’s fine, but I’ve been there and I wouldn’t suggest it.
In order to turn down opportunities you need to be able to afford it. In a lot of cases that means finding a day job in an unrelated industry, part-time or full-time (whatever you need to be able to cover your bill). That may sound counter-productive to your goals, but it actually make the time you spend on your passion that much more liberating. It both allows and forces you to be choosy about the opportunities you take on.
Saying “No” is Saying “Yes” To Something Else
The trick to saying “no” is to do it with purpose, and with the intention that you will say “yes” to something else down the line. There are so many factors that determine what opportunities are “worth it”, and they differ from person-to-person depending on their goals. The general rule is turning down what doesn’t fit your goal, and not letting money influence your decision.
Some people will tell you to take every opportunity you can no matter what it is because “that’s what you just have to do”. But if you’re a web designer, why would you take a logo design job? That’s not going to get you any closer to your goal of being a world-class web designer, doesn’t matter if it pays 3 times what the next potential job offers you. If your passion isn’t being relied upon for paying the bills, the money shouldn’t matter yet.