When someone asks something of you, there are a couple of ways you can respond: Yes or No.
When you say yes to everything, you are probably saying no to yourself and many of your art goals. You are saying that what someone is asking or offering is more important than your agenda.
You can’t even do everything that’s on your list right now, so how do you ensure that your art business remains a priority when so many people are asking for your time?
What’s a Yes To You?
Honor your top priorities. If it’s not an absolute YES, it’s a NO.
– Cheryl Richardson
Before you turn down opportunities and requests, it’s valuable to know your top priorities. What are your absolute yeses?
I imagine your absolute yeses include some of the following:
• Family: spouse, elderly parents, growing children
• Your art: studio time, learning, creative inspiration
• Self-care: exercise, good eating habits, sleep, spirituality
Is your art business on the absolute yes list? Is it really?
What are you saying yes to that isn’t on the list and is getting in the way of achieving your goals?
There’s Nothing Wrong With Saying No
There are all kinds of reasons you might agree to do something that you don’t want to do or that takes you away from your vision. Most of them are based in fear.
• You’re afraid that someone will be angry or disappointed with you if you say no.
• You’re afraid that you might miss out on an opportunity or on fun.
• You’re afraid of the confrontation and dialogue around saying no.
You don’t want to live a life of fear. You want to be your biggest, boldest self.
Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a professional adult with vision, goals, and boundaries. These are things that people understand and (mostly) respect.
You have no reason to feel guilty or afraid of the situation. There’s nothing wrong with saying no.
How To Say No
Always begin your reply with a Thank You and end with another Thank You. You were asked to contribute your time or talents because you are admired.
While the request may seem inconvenient for you, it probably was never intended that way. Acknowledge the compliment with your gratitude, while honoring yourself.
Saying no is a practice for many people who have a hard time with the word. So … practice!
Start small and with a thank-you.
Thank you for thinking of me, but I have a big deadline for my show approaching. I can’t add anything else to my plate right now. (That’s a no without actually saying the word.)
Leave out the middle part for other situations.
Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t add anything else to my plate right now.
Don’t hesitate to speak the truth, especially if it’s something you never want to be asked about again. It might be difficult, but people respect the truth, even if they seem inconvenienced.
And when you’re caught off-guard, use this response:
Let me think about that and get back to you.
[ See How to Handle Donation Requests ]
There’s no reason you have to give someone an answer on the spot. Buy yourself some time to formulate your response.
Whatever you do, don’t over-explain. It’s unnecessary.