Growing up, there were a few words my parents didn’t want us to say. The obvious four-letter words were high on the list, but a few others that just drove them nuts. “Whatever,” “shut up,” “hate,” and the big one… just two letters long, but sharp and biting. My parents absolutely hated us using the word “no.”
And when I was in high school, Jim Carrey’s Yes Man hit theaters and confirmed that “no” really is a bad word; that the only way to fully live life is to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. As somebody who wants to seize every moment and live as fully as possible, this made sense to me!
So when I first started shooting I took every gig that came my way… which was great for getting a lot of practice in, but I quickly realized that there was no point spending all of my time and energy building something that wasn’t perfectly aligned with my goals. I didn’t want to go on shoots that I wasn’t in love with or work with clients who weren’t obsessed with working with me (because I need constant validation and adoration 😜😘). I was saying yes to people because I thought that was better and more fruitful than saying no.
I was dead wrong. One of the best things I’ve done for my business is master the art of saying no. And I want you to learn it as well, because once you do, your happiness and fulfillment from your work is going to absolutely soar. Imagine only working with people who are as obsessed with you and your work as you are with them. Being perfectly aligned with your clients, before you even meet them! If you’ve ever worked with your ideal client, you know what an incredible feeling it is to walk into and out of a session with people who just get it.
But you don’t get to work with your ideal clients if you’re busy saying yes to people who don’t align with you and your goals. If you book out every weekend with people who aren’t on the same page as you, you’re never going to have time to find the people who are.
You see, every time you say yes to somebody who is not your ideal client, you’re essentially saying no to somebody who is. Every time you say no to a project that doesn’t set your heart on fire, you’re giving space to say yes to something that does. Saying no is so important for us creatives because not only does it help us align with our goals, but it helps us set healthy boundaries + expectations, and that can be a defining line between success and failure (and honestly, it’s so important for EVERYONE- in and outside of business)!
Saying no is scary, and if you’re not used to doing it, it can feel mean. But it doesn’t have to be! Remember that when you say no to the things that do not serve you, you’re also allowing those other people to find somebody that they better align with.
Practice saying no to simple, small things, to work yourself up to the big things. You don’t have to start out by rejecting people who are eager to work with you! You can start out by blocking off a few weekends a year and saying no to any work at all, reserving time for yourself and thereby saying no indirectly. Saying no doesn’t always look like a harsh rejection. Sometimes saying no is a thinly veiled yes. Once you start within your business, do it everywhere. With the company you keep, the hobbies you take up, the things you spend your money on. Take back your time. Trust me, you will never be more free 🪐
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