Learn to say no 🙅‍️

I’ve been working for myself for a long time now. In those 10 years, one thing I’ve found really difficult is to say no. No to people, jobs or things around you. It could be your friends or your family, it could be your clients. It’s hard because you don’t want to disappoint them.

But what’s more important, doing what is assigned to you or following your own path?

For now, let’s focus on clients — stop accepting everything that comes through.

We’ve all been there. You need to earn some money, you need to make a living. So, 90% of the time it’s very easy to just accept anything that comes through because it pays the bills, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, unless you do something about it, you’ll spend all of your time on shitty jobs. The good jobs rarely just begin appearing on your doorstep. It’s going to be one shitty job after the other until you stop accepting them.

Saying no is also about tools and other instruments that you use. You don’t need to use that hot new tool everyone’s raving about. You need to set yourself some personal restrictions. Say no to interruptions, quit social media when you work and make sure to have restrictive time-slots allocated only when you need to check your emails and social media.

The choice allows you to shape your life around your own habits and your lifestyle. You might have seen too many experts online telling you that you should do things you find uncomfortable. Just get out there. Start talking. Start attending conferences. Start posting your problems online, document your daily life via a vlog, all things that, I personally, hate.

I’d rather be solving more design or programming problems for my own thing than doing the above.

There are occasions where I feel pressured by some random person online who managed to become successful just doing that, but why should we follow others’ advice to put ourselves into unwanted, uncomfortable situations instead of becoming unique individuals ready to mould a lifestyle for ourselves?

Whenever I get a new enquiry or my shit-o-meter starts beeping, I ask myself the following questions:

  • Are these things really what I care about doing?
  • Would they conflict with my own personal interests?
  • Do these excite me and pique my interests?
  • Is this something that I need in my life right now?

You need to evaluate where you are with your life and with yourself right now, even if you’re really busy doing uninteresting jobs or busy work that you hate.

Why do you dislike doing that particular job? Are you keeping that shitty work because you’re afraid of saying no?

Why aren’t you pushing yourself beyond the things that you personally hate? Is it the fear of the unknown? But remember that it’s that fear that will push you even further to create marvellous creations.

This is your life and maybe, like me, you are working by yourself as a freelancer or running a business.

It’s about crafting that lifestyle that you’ve always wanted, growing and creating a life you enjoy. After all, if your life is run by your clients and/or the jobs you’ve been assigned (that you don’t enjoy), then why don’t you drop everything and just get a normal job? I don’t want to live someone else’s life.

Doing shit work doesn’t let me push myself into more interesting work, or let me discover skills I could learn by pushing myself a little bit harder.

Doing jobs that you like is motivating. They require more focus, obviously, and they get more attention because you really care about them. But they shouldn’t feel like hard work because at the end of the day they’re enjoyable.

If you think that doing shitty work now is going to open up more exciting opportunities in the future, then think again.

Say no to shitty jobs and start building your own life.