We all have heard the phrase “just say no” in reference to addiction or drug abuse. With the Me Too movement and the upsurge in women’s empowerment we’ve heard “no means no” bandied about like that most powerful slogan that we all know it to be. And like many slogans, it’s always easier said than done.
“No” is a gatekeeper and a boundary that we put up verbally to protect ourselves emotionally and often times physically. As a business owner, you have to constantly be thinking about the boundaries you’re placing around your time and your energy.
I don’t know how many entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to who have told me that their number one barrier is finding the time to build their business. And at the same time nearly every entrepreneur will also tell me that the reason they chose to build a business was so that they could have freedom of time. We don’t have enough time to build a business and if we build a business the pay off is more time. It’s a chicken and the egg kind of problem. The one thing standing in the way of us achieving our goal AND protecting what we have is our ability to leverage the word No.
Today I’m going to be talking about how to set up those boundaries.
The 3 Areas in your life to “just say no”
1. First we’ll take a look at saying No to your boss.
If you’re still working a nine-to-five and very much in the corporate world you may find that your time is not your own. And while I wholeheartedly agree that working for someone else is a game of trading your time for money that doesn’t mean that all the hours that you have available are up for discussion when it comes to work and work projects. Today I’m looking to give you a tool to put an end to the madness and start reclaiming your time a la Auntie Maxine.
2. The second place where you can Leverage The Power of No to reclaim your time is with friends and family.
This tends to be the most challenging because family members can lay on the guilt pretty thick. Whether it’s missing a birthday party, or an anniversary, or even just not going out with your girlfriends on a Saturday night, you have the ability to say No in a way that lets people know that you still value their relationship. As a business owner, you’ll quickly find out that you can’t do this thing of running a business, building an empire, and reclaiming your time on your own. You need a tribe of supportive people to do this thing. And that means your family, friends, and your network are critically important. Keeping those relationships strong even when you’re putting boundaries around your time is a master skill and I want to give you some tips for how to up your game if you’re struggling to say no to friends and family.
3. And lastly the third place where we can practice putting up boundaries is with our self.
I know this might sound strange but honestly think about how many times you said you wanted to build your business, create that website, get your LLC, and somehow ended up binge-watching Netflix instead. Sound familiar? You have to learn to say No to yourself. All the little indulgences that aren’t serving you, your business, or the vision you have for your future and the time freedom that you so desperately seek. Learn how to say No to yourself without making it feel like you’re depriving yourself or being punished.
Let’s dive in.
1. Say No at work.
This is probably one of the trickiest ones and the place where most of us feel there are the highest stakes. We don’t want to anger the wrong person, step on the wrong toes, and then somehow look like a slacker or no longer a team player.
Remember, a hallmark of leadership is your ability to stand your ground and speak up for yourself. Those who set powerful boundaries garner respect. You are always building your brand and teaching people how to treat you. If you wiggle on your boundaries early it’s much harder to get ground later when you desperately need to reset that line.
I recommend setting boundaries early in your career and in those workplace relationships. When you’re first meeting with someone make sure you show up to the meeting on time and if you do need to leave early make sure you let them know up front that you have a hard stop, or that you’re going to be leaving early. And then make sure that when that time comes to leave you actually leave. If you don’t respect your time and the boundaries you have set you can’t expect others to either.
Another place where it’s important to establish some expectations around how your time can be used is in your email inbox. I’m a big fan of having designated times in the day when I respond to email. If you’re able to set up this expectation with your work colleagues that you only check email at the very beginning of the day or the end of the day or do a midday check-in then they know what to expect when communicating with you and can’t be upset when you don’t send an email back to them within 30 seconds of receiving it.
Setting up expectations around what your day looks like and how you hold your time during the workday is just as important as when you’re meeting with people in person.
Projects and Workload
And lastly, projects and overall workload. Be honest with yourself here. If you know you can’t take on that new project, it is up to you to set that expectation early. Let people know that you would be happy to help them and it’s going to cost them in another area. If you read my post about being a superhero it’s all about understanding your commitments and being willing to give something up in order to get there.
If your overall goal is to leave that full-time job with your reputation intact then the last thing you want to do is burn yourself at both ends and then end up doing too much at a mediocre level versus a few things at a stellar level. Your reputation should be built on being a master of one thing, not a mediocre generalist – especially if your side hustle is in consulting or a knowledge based field. Keep your goal in mind and remember that standing your ground helps you garner respect and admiration. So few people are good at saying No and sticking to their boundaries that the people who do are like unicorns in the corporate space. Be a unicorn.
2. Setting Boundaries with Friends and Family
Setting boundaries with friends and family is a place where most people get the most grief. Your friends and family probably don’t understand why it is that you’ve been working all weekend on your laptop trying to figure out how to set up a landing page or design a new freebie for your website. That’s okay. They have no reason to know that unless you’ve told them.
Let them in on your Vision
One of the easiest ways to set expectations for your friends and family is to get them bought into the vision you’re creating with your business. I think one of the best things I did when I first started my business was to drop by a good friend’s house. Ace has been a poet for years and just a few years before I started my business he blew up on Instagram, published a book of poetry, and had garnered a following in the hundreds of thousands. My friend is literally Instafamous. And he still goes to work 9 to 5 for the city while managing and growing his dream.
When I first started thinking about what it would be like to jump out on my own as an entrepreneur I stopped by his apartment unannounced and told him what I was thinking and asked for his feedback. It was easy to tap into Ace because he was already there in the visionary space living his dreams and doing what he loved. Instant support. Now not everyone has a friend like Ace who has been there, done that and understands the hustle that is entrepreneurship.
But if you have some of those honest conversations with people and get a little vulnerable so that they can actually see your deepest desires and what you want for this business that you’ve been dreaming up, it makes it so much easier to tell them that you can’t come to their kid’s 3rd birthday party this weekend because you are working on your dream. Keep them updated on the progress of what you’re creating and show them your successes as well.
Get them involved
Some of your very best early testimonials are going to be from those friends and family who have been benefiting from your expertise and your knowledge for years for free. Get them involved so that when you can’t go those social events, they still feel connected to you in your life. No doesn’t have to be a No to the relationship – it’s just a No to that use of your time. Keep saying Yes to those relationships by engaging them in new ways.
3. Say No to Yourself
The final place to practice the tool of saying no is with yourself. As you grow your business you’re going to find increasingly, that the challenges you face are going to require more energy, creativity, and vision. Those things don’t get conjured out of thin air. You harness and wield those things by focusing on your own self-care and well-being. And you compound that with discipline.
The 2 Components of Self Discipline
When I’m talking about discipline I’m really talking about two critical components. There’s being totally aligned with your vision and what it is you’re trying to create. That could be time freedom. That could be legacy for your family. It could be a better world. It could be anything that you see as possible as a result of the work that you’re doing with your business.
- Get clear about what that is and how you’re adding value to the world with your unique skills. Be in total alignment, not just from a logical place in your head but also in your heart and most importantly from a spiritual dimension. Tap into your inner wisdom, your God, higher power, whatever it is that you call the Great Unknown in the universe that fuels us all. Once you have that alignment in place then it’s about getting consistent about how you show up in alignment.
- Consistency can look like a lot of things. If you’re an online based entrepreneur, you should be consistently creating content. Are you blogging every week? Are you creating a new podcast every week? A new YouTube video? How often are you going live on Facebook? When are you posting to social media? How often are you reconciling your books? Consistency, consistency, consistency. It’s the key to the game.
Remember you need both components: alignment and consistency and both of those things are fueled by guess what? Time.
Be responsible for your own Time
It is your responsibility to create time and hold appointments with yourself for self generating your own alignment with care for your mind, body, and spirit. You also have responsibility to set aside time to be consistent with content generation and the admin that comes with running your business as a solopreneur.
Down the line you’ll be able to delegate a lot more but in the early stages you have to build that muscle. When you set appointments with yourself to either take care of your well-being (get aligned) or build your operation muscles (get consistent) those are appointments you don’t get to break in exchange for a Netflix binge or sleeping in till 10. Or staying up till midnight for that matter. Just say No to the things that don’t align with you and your commitment is critical to your success.
What do YOU think?
You have to learn to just say No. Say No to your nine-to-five and the over-extension of your time and resources. Just say No to family engagements that aren’t fully supporting what you’re trying to create. And definitely say No to that lazy slacker inside all of us that doesn’t want you to be fully aligned and consistent as you build your business.
Who do you have difficulty saying No to?
GRAB THE FREE BUSINESS PLANNING GUIDE!
If you haven’t downloaded the Business Planning Guide yet, I highly encourage you to get it now. It’s a phenomenal tool that will help you decide exactly what tasks you should be doing and how your time should be allocated as you prepare to jump in full time into your business. Set up boundaries around the things that are important and that have you aligned and consistent with building your dream. Remember, just say No.
YESSSSS TO ALL OF THIS!!
Paradoxically, saying no opens so many doors to our dreams!
Thank you for writing this Marie, very illuminating. Thanks for encouraging us to protect our most precious and irreplaceable asset, our time/our life.