Yes, Please. No, Thank You.

The start of December marks the close of a whirlwind year. I set a goal today to review my 2018 intentions, and I am struck with what I can only perceive as (with my 20/20 hindsight, of course) a pretty intuitive statement:

“I will develop my editorial work and professional presence in a way that feels honest and makes me proud.”

Good job, past self. Also, note to future self: review yearly intentions more frequently, because I could have saved myself a lot of grief this past fall if I had simply listened to myself. For the past ten years or so, I’ve learned that some wonderful opportunities come from saying “yes” to what comes your way; the usual mindset of: opportunity begets opportunity, “It will pay off in the long run!”, and “Who knows what could come from this, so let’s find out!” has brought me to a place in my life that I’m quite happy with.

A lesson later learned and never taught outright is how to say “no” in a way that is thoughtful and with gratitude, but clear and without unnecessary apology. This season I found myself grappling with freelance work that didn’t sit well with me for a number of reasons. Simultaneously this past fall we have been doing a lot of reflection at the community organization where I work. What are our values? What are we struggling with? How can we improve? If you are a super self-aware to the point of analysis paralysis introversion like me then you’ll know that these questions inevitably lead to: What are my values? What am I struggling with? How can I improve?

Looking back on how I handled a client for the past few months, I think it took me two or three emails too many–a month apart from each other–for me to realize what I was actually trying to say: I don’t want to do this anymore. Perhaps I could have listened to my intuition right from the start. Weren’t there so many red flags both in writing and in my heart? Was I too stubborn or optimistic? Is stubborn optimism actually naivete? 

And so, I leave my mistakes and lessons here for any potential fellow editors, future clients, or curious acquaintances who might stumble upon this post. Learning how to say “yes, please” and “no, thank you” in a way where you feel completely confident that your brain and heart are in sync is difficult, but important and worthwhile if you are seeking a healthy and sustainable life. 

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