Repeat after me: No.
No. No. No. And no.
Now, think about what your workweek would look like—and where your company might be today—if you’d used the word “no” a little more often.
I’m right there with you: The Ultimate Yes Woman.
“Yes,” because I have varied interests and a ridiculous amount of curiosity, and because I inherently like to be part of a team and get caught up in the excitement of making things happen. “Yes,” because as a mom who stayed home with her five kids for many years, I am eager to expand my career experience and make up for lost time.
Good intentions, but not the wisest allocation of my time and energy, or yours.
We’ve all done it: You take on a side project because “it’s a great opportunity” to enhance your resume, beef up your online profile, grow your company’s visibility, fuel a passion…
You’re good at it, and you love the work, so you don’t worry about the extra hours you’re putting in, or the fact that those hours spent in the name of someone else’s bottom line, could—and should—have been spent growing your own.
Welcome to Business Lessons You Usually Have to Learn the Hard Way, one of the many “Aha!” moments experienced by business owners in just about every industry. “No” is one of the most valuable assets a business owner has. Best of all, it doesn’t cost you anything—unless, you don’t use it.
Ask the people around you, who are proven leaders, and most will have the same advice: When you stop making other peoples’ priorities yours, a whole new world opens up—a world where you, and your goals, are Number One.
For some people, this is much easier said than done. There’s enough possibility in many of these so-called “great opportunities,” that saying “no” feels like the bigger mistake. As this article points out though, it’s mind over matter. By saying “no” you actually give yourself more time to pursue those activities that enhance your life. Giving your mind a break will leave you feeling more energized and more effective in every area of your life, including your career.
So where do you start?
Awhile ago, I posted about goal setting. If your goals are not clear, it makes it that much easier to bypass them. It’s your job to get yourself from Point A to Point B. When a request for your time is made, ask yourself, how saying “yes” will help you meet your goals. If you come up empty-handed, your answer should be a hard and fast “no.”
There are many terrific resources out there for helping business leaders pinpoint their company’s North Star. Likewise, there are plenty of quality reads centered on fine-tuning your own sense of direction. Since our careers and personal lives are more entwined than ever, particularly for those who have online personas to maintain, evaluating priorities across the board is critical.
If the opportunities presented to you are not clearly aligned with your goals, it’s in your best interest to show restraint. If you’re itching to put in extra hours, chances are that you’ve got plenty of to-dos on your desk or around the house to keep you busy. Or maybe you’ll get lucky and realize you’ve got time for a walk, hitting the gym or reading a book. That might not get you a retweet, or any extra dough, but it will keep you mentally and physically fit to keep up with that busy schedule.
Being superwoman is a noble pursuit. But being the master of your own destiny is far more rewarding.