“No is a complete sentence”.
How many times have you been in a situation where your to-do list is consuming you, sleep doesn’t seem like a basic human need anymore, you’ve been wearing the same pair of jeans for 2 weeks straight, your acrylics have grown out to the point you’re giving Wolverine a run for his money and then someone comes along asking you for a favour, yet rather than all of the above being a clear indicator that you may have too much on your plate and kindly telling said person no, you smile and agree to help whilst screaming and crying in your head all at the same time.
I know I’m not the only person guilty of this right?!
For some strange reason, that little two letter word seems so hard to say sometimes though often it’s the most needed response. I am not sure how it happened, but there are so many negative connotations around the word no that it puts us on edge at the thought of having to use it. It’s weird; if a stranger asked you for £1000, the words would shoot out your mouth like a sneeze. But if your boss asked you to stay an hour behind after work. Or your best friend says "Can I come over ? " when you were hoping for a quiet evening alone. Of course, we can still say no, but initially it feels a bit more awkward, as if you’re now letting someone down if you don’t agree.
Since I’ve been freelancing I’ve found it even harder to say no; when you make that decision to leave the safety of regular work that a full time job can bring, it’s a scary feeling month to month not knowing where your next pay cheque will be coming from. When I first started freelancing I was saying yes to everything. I worked in production for TV, I did Social Media for agencies, I helped set up websites for businesses, anything that would keep those coins reaching my account.
There are pro’s and con’s to this. At first it was great; I was meeting loads of new people, learning loads of new skills and pretty much keeping afloat. However, as time went on I found I was starting to veer off track from what I really wanted to do and in fact, I felt unclear about what it was I actually wanted to do as a freelancer. I found myself in really stressful situations where I was doing work I didn’t want to do and working with clients that weren’t right for me just because I needed the money.
But if I was going to keep doing work I really didn’t want to do just for the mula, I might as well have stayed in full-time employment.
So I had to learn to say no.
I’m not saying you don’t have to hustle and juggle but there is still a method to the madness. If you’re constantly saying yes to work that doesn’t really benefit or help you progress towards your ultimate goal, you’re causing more damage because you’re likely to be left feeling stressed, drained and un-motivated when it comes to working on the things you do love.
Saying yes because of fear is worse than saying no.
I had to let go of the fear of wondering where my next pay cheque was coming from and trust that if I invested my time in my vision and craft I would eventually start to reap the benefits from doing so.
(I was catching up on my blog reading, check out Bad Blogger, she's amazing!)
Now I am no-where in the position I want to be in terms of a regular roster of clients and income. However, because I’ve been investing my time into me, I have been able to build my portfolio, my website and my brand so that when the work does start coming in I am ready.
Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready, you feel me?!
So what do you do about money then?
Well, I got a part-time weekend job. It’s just enough money to cover my monthly expenses so I don’t have to stress if some months I don’t have enough clients plus easy enough to do that I’m not pouring my energy into it and still have enough time and effort to invest into my craft.
Sure, I can’t really treat myself to nice things or go on holiday at the moment, but the peace of mind in knowing that I can fully and truly invest into what I’m trying to build is all the treat I need right now.
Give it a try, say no loudly and as often as needed and see how liberated you start to feel.
Coco Shaw x
Pictures taken at Drink, Shop & Do Cafe