Ugh, even just writing that makes me want to puke.
Overachievers, high performers, golden children: we do this a lot. We receive a request and ever fiber of our being screams "NO" but we meekly agree to whatever the request is that's been presented to us. And then we lose sleep, lose income and lose precious me-time satisfying the needs of others. We abandon carefully crafted boundaries for a variety of reasons... go with me on this journey:
You can read articles across Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review, and watch a bunch of TedTalks on the subject. But let me make this easy for you:
Set your boundaries
Honor your boundaries
Get to know your No. What motivates you? What's important to you? What are you reaching for and moving towards every day? Now, flip those questions: what demotivates you? What's not important or a priority for you and your business? What will get in the way of your progress? Be really honest with yourself here. This could be something as simple as I'm not agreeing to vacuum the living space on Tuesdays to something bigger like We have no availability for new work until June and cannot do a "favor" for past or current clients. Hold that line with confidence and when the internal negging starts, think about how you'd talk a friend or client through this scenario and then talk to yourself that way, too.
-- A quick note here: When you send a declination, you don't owe anyone an explanation. I hear this from my clients a lot: I don't want to do this, but what should I say because I don't want to hurt their feelings... Give yourself a couple of boilerplate responses to have on-hand, 2-3 sentences that sound like you, are polite but firm, and close the door on the request.
Understand what you're saying Yes to. It's simple: when you say no to some Thing you're actually saying yes to some Thing else. It could be a vacation or a more relaxed opportunity to deliver for a client; it could be room to internally strategize or nourish your business and yourself. Your time is finite and so is your energy. Spend it on what adds the most value to you.
It's going to take a little practice, but I promise you: do the prep work now to make the "no" easier later.