The importance of saying no has been a recurring topic of conversation in many circles. Exercising our right to say no is without a doubt one of the highest forms of self-care. But on the other end of that, you have someone like Shonda Rhimes who wrote an amazing book called “Year of Yes,” where seemingly everything changed the moment she decided to stop saying no to everything. So where exactly should our efforts lie? Well, I believe it’s all about learning how to evaluate your yes.
I listen often to Toure Roberts of One Church LA, who was the first person I heard talk about evaluating your yes. The bottom line is that you can’t say no to everything and you can’t say yes to everything without losing your mind, so you have to develop a system of how you handle the requests that come your way.
CLICK TO TWEET /// You can't say no to everything, and you can't say yes to everything without losing your mind.
I am also in the process of learning this. I have more and more to do each day. And I keep coming up with new ideas that add even more to my to-do list. The Ashley from three years ago is no longer in a space where she can afford to say yes to everything that comes her way. It’s interesting to get to that space because you still feel like you need to take every opportunity because you haven't yet reached the success you’re shooting for, but the reality is, you’ve garnered some receipts at this point and you can't.
So now when I am faced with a request there are a few things that I have to consider. We’re all busier than we’ve ever been, but the process of evaluating your yes is really about prioritizing. That is honestly the keyword that many of us replace with busy. You’re not too busy to speak on that panel, the panel simply isn’t a priority at this particular place in time. Doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be two months later. You’ll still be the same amount of busy, you just may be promoting a product or something like that and need to get it in front of some new eyes. It’s all relative to your current moment and needs.
So here are a few things to consider in regard to evaluating your yes.
What is your current overarching goal?
Sometimes something is a great opportunity but not for what we’re doing at the moment. If I am working on a course, it may not make sense to book a speaking engagement that has nothing to do with the material of the course. It’s so easy to get caught up. Just because of a name or a price tag on something, but that’s how we get so easily distracted. Focus on the main goal and opportunities surrounding it should support that mission.
CLICK TO TWEET /// Focus on the main goal and opportunities surrounding it should support that mission
Do you have the time to give it your best?
Show up in every moment. I wrote about this on the blog before. Don’t say yes to something that you can’t fully commit to and give an excellent performance. You never know where that thing could end up. If you say yes, just because and realize you don’t have the time to actually dedicate to it, you are going to regret it. I used to say yes to things and when the deadline hit, I hated the task because I should have never taken it on in the first place.
Will it set you up for better future opportunities?
So many of us are about getting paid. Especially in younger generations. But the reality is, some things actually are great exposure. If Oprah said, I’ll put you on Soulful Sunday but you have to make your own way here, I bet you would do it. We get caught up in phrases like exposure can't put food on the table, but sometimes biting the bullet can lead to much greater things and eventually checks that will put food on the table. Yes, some people are just trying to take advantage, but you have to know how to have discernment about what can get you in rooms you may have been coveting.
Does it give you the opportunity to give back?
Listen, we’re all out for ourselves in more ways than one. But what will be the impact that you leave on this Earth? Reasonable service is to open doors for others that are coming behind you. Sometimes you just say yes because to whom much is given, much is required.
Does it pay enough?
There are levels to everything. Just because an offer is paying, doesn't necessarily make it a no-brainer. Sometimes the payment isn't enough for what is being asked of you. Sometimes the payment isn't enough if you have more important family obligations. Do you need the extra cash right now? These are all things that you need to consider. Just being paid isn't always enough.
Will it connect you with someone you have been trying to reach?
I don't love networking. But it’s such an important part of the process. We spend so much time planning and creating in our own little worlds, but you have to meet the people that can help take your vision to the next level. I literally have to push myself to go to events sometimes, but it’s almost always worth it. That panel may introduce you to your next business partner. That mixer may give you an opportunity to connect with a potential sponsor.
Is it a good distraction from something great?
I heard my Pastor talk about this once and it really woke me up. Sometimes we say yes to good things, but it really is a distraction from the greater thing that we’re seeking. See, I have these long-term goals that every smaller goal is adding up to. But it’s easy to get derailed in a time where things pop up that can make you money or get you some instant exposure. And they may be really good things. But staying focused enough to bypass some of those opportunities for a greater purpose is where the challenge really comes in. Is this opportunity contributing to my greater? That’s an important question to consider in the midst of mulling over a yes.
These are not in a particular order. You have to decide which of the items are most important to you at that time to determine your answer. The priorities will change. But I think ultimately these are the questions that come into play with every email, DM or phone call that comes your way as a creative.
Knowing what to say no to is a challenge. But when we take our time and evaluate, where am I in my life? How am I feeling? Am I already overwhelmed? Do I need the money? It’s only then that we have the capacity to make the best decisions for our lives and careers.
Tell me, are there other things that you consider when determining whether you’ll say yes or no to an opportunity? Share in the comments below or shoot me a tweet!