No means yes.
When I started working for myself, I was terrified to say "no."
That meant I took on more undisciplined clients and unfocused projects than I'd like to admit. Like most freshly-minted businesspeople, I was scared of the most anxiety-inducing what-if scenarios faced by the self-employed:
- What if there aren't enough clients or projects?
- What if these imperfect opportunities are all there are?
- What if all the potential work dries up?
I was scared that these scenarios would come to pass if I wasn't always ready with a "yes."
And here's the thing: when you start out, you will likely take on work that's an imperfect fit so that you can bolster your experience and release the flow of money into your bank account. This is a strategic decision and it does make sense.
But not indefinitely.
It's important to acknowledge and appreciate the simple fact that "no" leaves more "yes" in your life.
This may sound like an eye-rolling self-help platitude, but it's truth.
When you say "no" to something, you're not rudely or disrespectfully rejecting an opportunity.
You're not being ungrateful.
You're not being lazy or a slacker.
You're doing yourself -- and your prospective client -- a favor.
You're smartly recognizing that it's not the right opportunity right now, and there are more meaningful ways to channel your energy.
You're acknowledging that you may not be able to do justice to this potential project, either because it doesn't fall into your area of expertise or because you're just plain uninterested.
You have your reasons and you don't need to justify them to anyone.
You just need to know why you're saying "no" so you can let it go and focus on activities that actually add value to your work.
Because after you say "no," you're saying "yes" to doing the work you actually want to do and that will help you achieve your goals.
Yes, "no" can be scary.
But instead of focusing on what scares you about saying "no," find ways for your POV, your expertise and your work to be a clear "yes" to the people you can best serve.