the power of “no”

People always talk about the power of “Yes.” There are plenty of movies (hey Jim Carrey), books (love you Bethenny Frankel), and motivational speakers (you’re my girl, Oprah) that are telling us how our lives can radically be changed for the better by adopting a “yes attitude.”

I agree that saying yes can open up several doors to wonderful opportunities. Being a “yes person” brands you as optimistic, open-minded, and great to work with. I’m the first person to say “yes” when a volunteer is needed to help with an extra release, or if someone needs an extra hand with their pitching, I readily make myself available.

Yesterday, I hit a wall. Actually, I think it would be more accurate if I said I crashed into a wall at full speed without a seat belt on, and I went flying through the windshield. As I sank in to my bed last night, the wreckage still smoldering around me from my mental breakdown, I suddenly became acutely aware of my limits.

As much as I had hoped I could be everything and do everything, I realized I wasn’t being of help to anyone because I wasn’t able to give each of them 100%. Plain and simple, I was burnt out.

So I’m calling this next chapter in my life, for lack of better words, “Yes, you can say no.”

Boundaries and limits are important to establish early on as a professional, otherwise people will quickly take advantage of your generosity to help without realizing that they are one of many people coming to you for assistance.

First and foremost, your own work comes first. Yesterday I had to put a pitch I was responsible for on hold because my boss came to me asking to help out a colleague. I wanted to respond to her and let her know I was busy with my own overwhelming workload, but I didn’t want her to think I wasn’t being a team player. So instead I said, “sure” and as a result, bit off more than I could chew and didn’t get my pitch done for my own story until early this morning. Being a team player means helping the team achieve success…and instead I was only chalking up a loss by putting my own work off to do someone else’s.

While PR is a profession that is known for always being on the clock, there needs to be boundaries established forwhat this actually means. While I have zero qualms with taking my work laptop home to finish up things I wasn’t able to get done in the 9 to 5 parameters of office hours, there also needs to be a stopping point where you power down and say “this can wait until tomorrow.”

Lastly, as per the blog of one of my best friends today… it is also imperative to speak up when YOU are the one who needs help – something I fail miserably at. Everyone needs to recognize they are human, and as hard as we may try, we are not perfect. We have limits and breaking points…as I quickly realized last night. Let someone else return the favor occasionally. It will not make you any less of a person. Rather, it will make you a more mature professional for being self-aware and honest.

Cheers to the end of the week everyone. Find time to power down and say “yes” to a big dose of pajamas, cocktails, and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. I know I am.

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