Get in the No


I never thought I’d turn down a paid writing opportunity.

I love to write, and I’m always looking out for more chances to write and publish. Every day I get job alert emails and keep my eye out for anything writing related where I could get my foot in the door and get some good experience. This role seemed perfect, and even had the promise of pay.

I find a problem that we have is learning to say “no”, especially when we seem to be denying something that we’ve wanted for a long time. When we’re looking for work and opportunities, it can feel like we have to accept everything that comes our way. After all, we’ve worked so hard that it would be a waste not to make the most of every chance.

Even in daily life, it can be difficult to get in the “no”. Friends and colleagues will ask favours of us and it can be hard to turn them down. We don’t want to let people down, and end up saying “yes” to everything.

In fact, if we don’t learn to say “no” then our “yes” becomes overstretched and meaningless. If we make too many promises, we let people down worse when we have to back out or make excuses, when we could have just said from the start, “Sorry, I’ll have to give this one a miss.”

Learning to say “no” to some things means you can commit a bigger “yes” to the opportunities and people you really care about. We have to realise that we have limited resources, and if we take on too much then our ability to follow through is compromised. And that will definitely let people down.

We work hard to get opportunity so that we can then choose.

It wasn’t because the opportunity was unsuitable. I just decided with everything going on at the moment, I wanted to focus on other writing and work. I’m glad I applied for the position, all the same, and chuffed that I was one of the selected applicants. I also realised that I probably wouldn’t do a very good job because I’d end up stretched too thin.

Anyway, generating leads and opporunities isn’t about saying “yes” to every job and project which comes good. We work hard to get opportunity so that we can then choose which deserve our commitment and energy.

It can be quite liberating to realise that we don’t have to say “yes” to everything that comes our way, that it’s okay to pass up a good chance sometimes. There will be others, no doubt.