Here are 25 ways I’ve come up with to say no… (some more professional than others!) The list took me less than 5 minutes.  So WHY do I have such a hard time saying it???

  1. No.
  2. Nope.
  3. No can do.
  4. Sorry but I can’t.
  5. I’d love to but I can’t give it the attention it deserves.
  6. It isn’t in my wheel house.
  7. I’ll have to pass.
  8. I’m already over committed so I will have to say no.
  9. Thank you but no.
  10. I appreciate the opportunity but will have to pass at this time.
  11. I’m afraid I can’t fit it into my schedule.
  12. No, thank you though.
  13. Sorry, no.
  14. No way José! (what DOES José request that he has become a part of an adamant way to say NO anyway??)
  15. Not gonna happen.
  16. No thank you.
  17. No, I can’t commit my time to that.
  18. I’m afraid I have other plans.
  19. No, I have other priorities.
  20. No, it doesn’t make sense for my business right now.
  21. No, that isn’t the direction I want to move in.
  22. No, I have other commitments I need to honor.
  23. No, but please ask another time.
  24. Not today…
  25. Hell to the NO! (Every time I say that I hear Tammy Barney – now Judge – from the Real Housewives of the OC in my head!)

Maybe I have issues saying NO because I’m a people-pleasing middle child. Maybe it’s my Type A over-achieving tendencies.  Maybe it’s fear – fear that if I say no I will miss out on something amazing.  Maybe I’m afraid that saying NO will mean someone doesn’t like me…

There are so many, many reasons it is hard to say NO so it is important to remember when and why to say YES!

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately… and it all stems back to my gut-instinct to say “YES” to just about every thing that comes my way.  It worked for a while but now I’m at defcon RED and I believe I will explode if I don’t get better at saying NO, prioritizing and only saying “YES” to things that make sense to me, my business and my life.

Here’s an example, pulled from real life (guess whose??):

Does it make sense for a manufacturer to ask me to come up with ideas for a product line with both my art and the art owned by a retailer – paying me a royalty if it is selected?  Sure does!  They only pay me if it gets in the line.

Does it make sense for me?  It does if it is my art and if I can use the art elsewhere if it doesn’t work for that project.

Does it make sense for me to spend my time coming up with product ideas with art that I can’t use and will only be compensated IF it is picked up?  At this point in my business, no.  The manufacturer thinks it does of course – because they don’t have to pay someone for work that might not pay off.  I can agree to do it or not.  I need to say NO to opportunities like this…

Art licensing is about rolling the dice with the manufacturers.  But it is about a calculated and controlled roll.  If the one deal doesn’t work, you take the art and see where it can fit.  Even if it DOES work, you still see who else needs it for different products.  THAT makes sense.  Becoming a free idea / layout shop with someone else’s work doesn’t.  Make sense?

I suppose I’m thinking out loud to remind myself about when to say yes and when to say no and what the difference is in those scenarios…. and hopefully it will make you stop and think about how and what you say yes and no to…

The Power of a Positive NoI am also talking out The Power of A Positive NO – a great book I have read multiple times and turn to each and every time I overwhelm myself with too many un-necessary YESes.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Say NO to things that aren’t key to your vision and journey so you have room (and energy!) to say YES to those things that do!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed