In December, someone I went to high school with sent an email with lessons she learned in 2020. One of them was, “You can say no to work.” She explained that if a business proposal doesn’t excite her, if the project doesn’t grab her right away, she learned the entire project will be a drag. That she won’t want to do the work and it will be like pulling teeth to complete the project.
OK, she didn’t say it would be like pulling teeth, but I’ve noticed that for myself. As a freelance content writer and freelance ghostwriter, there’s a part of me that feels obligated to say yes to everything. I don’t have the luxury of a steady paycheck from someone else and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. That means there’s a bit of scarcity where I want to make as much money as I can just in case it all disappears next week. If we’re using metaphors, I’m worried the well will run dry.
What my classmate reminded me is how saying yes to everything doesn’t serve anyone. I won’t produce my best work and the client won’t be as happy as they could because I didn’t go above and beyond. In fact, me saying yes to everything is how everyone loses. Just because a freelance content writing project comes my way doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right fit for me. The subject matter might be boring, or the turnaround time too tight. If I don’t like the initial proposal, I won’t like the concluding project.
Somebody out there would be thrilled to write about widgets so it’s better for me to turn down the projects that don’t light me on fire. Saying “no” to a project means someone else can say “yes” to it. Similarly, saying “no” to a ghostwriting project means I can say “yes” to another one that comes my way. I love writing about psychology topics. I could talk your ear off discussing internal family systems or the ingredients necessary to maintain desire in long-term relationships. Writing blogs and articles on topics such as those are fun for me. The migration patterns of hunter/gatherers in ancient Mesopotamia? Not so much.
There’s something freeing about hearing another small business owner say she turns down work if it doesn’t excite her. I mean, at least it felt that way to me and that’s why I’m writing a blog about it. I truly believe work doesn’t have to be drudgery — yes, every business has aspects that are unpleasant, but fundamentally I struck out on my own because I wanted to enjoy my work. I wanted to pick and choose which content writing and ghostwriting gigs I said yes to. If I feel desperate and say yes to projects that sounds boring, I’m not staying true to my original purpose in starting my own business. I know sometimes people don’t have the luxury of saying “no” to work, but then again I think it comes back to having faith, like I wrote about last month.
It means having faith the universe will deliver the right clients at the right time. But it’s also having faith that I can market and hustle to find the sort of clients that I want to work with. The sorts of projects that are fun to work on. Those are the people to say yes to because otherwise I’m trying to be all things to all people, which is a recipe for failure. In order to succeed, I must be willing to say no.
I just wrote a post about saying “no” but I’m also saying “yes,” perhaps to you. Are you looking for a freelance content writer or freelance ghostwriter? If you’re a therapist or an alternative health practitioner, I’d love to talk to you. (But I’m also open to other professions.) Reach out today.