“Would you like to co-chair this committee with me?”

“Can you work the school auction?”

“Why don’t you plan the family reunion, you’re so good at it.”

Are you the type of person that people come to when they need something?

Is it because you do the best job? Is it because you’re reliable?

Or is it because they know you won’t say no?

Yep, I’ve fallen into that trap many times myself. Its easy to do when you love to help out when you can, and you’re committed to a cause. Whether its being a part of your children’s schooling, being a part of a family, or even being in business, its hard to say no when you feel a sense of community.

But saying no isn’t a bad thing; it’s the perception we feel it puts on our shoulders that we’re afraid of.

“Will they think less of me if I say no?”

“Will I miss out on hidden opportunities if I say no?”

All kinds of things run through your mind.

In truth, saying no isn’t a bad thing. In fact it can be beneficial.

Consider the cost of missed opportunities

If you say yes to something you’re heart isn’t into, and you would rather not do, you may find yourself having to turn down other things that would have more benefit. Especially if you’ve signed up for a long term project.

Planning an event or sitting on a committee takes time. You’ll spend hours working on the outcome, and even more hours driving to/from and attending meetings. What if a new project comes along for your business and you can’t accept because you don’t have the time?

Always ask yourself if you are using your time as wisely as possible.

Look at the alternatives

When someone approaches you with a new idea, don’t answer “yes” right away. Even if you like the idea, ask if you can respond in a day or two with your final answer. Then look at it subjectively over the course of the next day or two. Do a little research to find out how much time this project will truly take. Ask people that have been in the position before how much time they truly spent on the project. Also consider what you could do if you don’t commit to this project. Make your decision based on what you feel is the best thing for you at the moment.

Worst case scenario

If you took on this new project, what is the worst thing that could happen? What if you didn’t? When you stop and look at the true reasons you are considering a project, the answers may surprise you. Are you doing it just to hang out with friends? Are you doing it to try to impress one person? Once you have your answers, evaluate the true impact. You may find that either way doesn’t have much impact, so why put yourself through countless hours that really have no meaning to you.

Take action

In some cases, saying yes may pull you out of your comfort zone, and open you up to new opportunities. What will you gain by working on a new project? It may not directly impact your business, but it may open up possibilities in the future. Will you be working with people with whom you would like to build relationships? Will you be picking up skills that you can use in your business? While “no’s” should be reserved for things that offer you zero benefits, be on the look out for opportunities that can help you learn something new.

Burn the boats

Its easy to pull back when we reach out of our comfort zone. So you sit on the committee rather than becoming the chair. Or you say yes to a committee you’ve been on for years instead of starting down a brand new path.

In ancient Greece, the warriors were both fierce and well respected. As they moved from place to place, they would land on foreign territory and the commanders would immediately order the troops to “burn the boats”. They knew that without boats to fall back to in case of loss, the troops would be much stronger when facing battle. The only way to go home would be to conquer and take the boats of the rival nation.

There wasn’t choice; it was either win or lose. It was either yes or no.

In everything you do, it’s the same. Its either yes or no. Never a maybe. Never an opportunity for non-commitment. You either take something on full force and accept all the benefits it has to offer, or you move in a new direction. No doubts. You just do.

So the only thing left to ask yourself is “what have you been non-committal on? Is it a yes, or is it a no?”

If one of your indecisions has been on moving to the next level with your photography business, you may be interested in my newest book, What Do I Name My Photography Business? In it I provide answers to 20 key questions people have when they are moving forward with their dreams of starting a photography business. If that sounds like you, no is your chance to get What Do I Name My Photography Business? It’s a perfect resource for you to use to create a plan as you have spare moments in the coming weeks. Take it with you in Kindle format, or download it as a PDF to take anywhere.

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