'We say yes for the wrong reasons: a reluctance to be labelled as negative; a perceived obligation to friends and family; an attempt to avoid the discomfort of the opposite. We feel pressure in the moment to agree to something, and see a simple yes as a way to protect us from the awkwardness of delivering a No. We kick the can down the road, locking ourselves into a future we could have avoided.'
This piece from Kevin Maguire about the importance of saying no to things really resonated. I've run my own business for over eleven years now and the sharp urgency of needing to have a good pipeline of upcoming work has never left me. And like Kev, the experience of March 2020 was in many ways deeply uncomfortable for me. I felt exposed when everything suddenly fell out of the diary, and my reaction to all that uncertainty was to throw myself into work – a constant cycle of generating it, thinking about it, and delivering it which has continued to this day. So it's good to be reminded of the power of saying no, particularly when it feels hard to do.
In truth though, I'm also somewhat conflicted about saying no to work that I think is especially challenging or right on the edges of my comfort zone. This type of work is inevitably more stress-inducing and there are times when I really question the choices that I've made. Some projects can be stretching to the point of being uncomfortable. And yet that's always when I learn the most and expand my self-selecting or perceived boundaries. I guess there's always a balance to be struck but achieving the right balance is consistently for me one of the biggest challenges of working for yourself.