Crafting Your Career: The Benefits of Saying “No” More Often

As an up and coming business owner with a spirit to thrive and succeed in the ever-changing entrepreneurial world, I often find myself agreeing to tackle projects and meet deadlines that I know are unreasonable or non-beneficial to my career, all because I’m wanting that opportunity to open more doors and meet more clients. While my attitude to create an established enterprise remains positive, the reality of the fact is that constantly saying yes to every task may not be so smart for building business after all.

Know Your Number: Juggling Multiple Tasks

Getting your foot in the door to success at work often comes at a price. In 2003, research conducted by Catalyst indicated that more than 40% of women in corporate leadership positions agreed that seeking out difficult, highly visible assignments was a very important advancement strategy. While challenging yourself is always a good way to demonstrate your ability to handle issues outside of your comfort reach, taking on too much will only leave your overwhelmed, stressed, sleep-deprived and most likely of all, less focused on your work goals. Therefore, when taking on an assignment that is either time-sensitive or stretches your skills and abilities, weigh the pros and cons before agreeing to advance. Before proceeding, ask yourself:

  • How will this assignment interfere with my other priorities and tasks?
  • Can I accomplish this assignment in a reasonable amount of time without losing focus on other projects?
  • Does this assignment require me to put in additional hours of work each day or week? How will I come up with the time to balance this assignment both on and off the clock?

If you cannot come up with an answer to these questions, your answer on accepting such a task is a simple NO. As humans, we are capable of producing many things, but time is not one of them.

Avoid Tasks That Fall Short of Your Target Network

Another important element to analyze is whether or not a certain project or collaboration expands your desired network. As a freelance writer and editor, I have been introduced to a handful of individuals who present a particular project or ongoing relationship to me. While some have turned out to be mutually beneficial experiences and have led me to meet more prospects within my circle, I have also stumbled upon professionals who offer little to no incentive in terms of business development for my company when it comes down to the nitty gritty. For example, I collaborated with a professional who was interested in broadening awareness of her business via social media outlets. After hours upon hours of drafting and perfecting a business plan, weekly calendar and tailored content, I became abruptly aware that my hard work was not adding to my personal growth and this particular client could not offer me anything in terms of building my clientele base or strengthening my editorial skills. She did not value my time and I realized far too late that the relationship was mutually exclusive as only her company was experiencing a gain at the end of the day. I could not get back the time I had dedicated to completing her assignments and was extremely irritated that I had put valuable customers on the sidelines in order to finish tasks delegated by her. Had I politely declined the contract in the first place, I would have avoided the stress and frustration that accompanied the agreement.

Keep Your Reputation In Mind…

Lastly, you need to keep in mind what title or profession you’re ultimately trying to achieve. As a business owner, I sometimes get so focused on being the “boss” that I forget what that actually means. I cannot be in control if the tasks I am being given are not helping to structure that title I’m striving for. Maintaining a good rapport with established clients who regularly assign me projects is much more important than connecting with clients outside of my area of expertise who will probably walk away dissatisfied if the time and commitment does not meet their expectations.

In the continuous world of social networking and marketing, maintaining a solid reputation for providing a worthy service or offering a unique skill will earn you future clients and will bring you far more success than agreeing to work with every prospect you meet.

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