The Power of Saying “No” for Your Mental Health

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Is your work making you sick?

Your days are so packed there’s no time to breathe?

You want to succeed so badly you say “Yes” to every opportunity.

Here’s the ironic part…

the business you worked so hard to build is now making you sick.

I was speaking with a friend who’s drowning in his business. He struggled so hard to build his business for so long he can’t drop his poverty mindset

He says “Yes” to every client, because he doesn’t want to lose them. 

Instead of outsourcing, his days are filled with routine tasks anyone could do. And instead of making big, business changing decisions, he fusses over small decisions that don’t really matter.

Everyday, he wades through a swamp load of work, head down, frantically putting out fires. 

Sound familiar?

Sometimes we need to stop and ask some basic questions, like:

  1. Am I happy – doing the work I love and doing it on my terms?
  2. Am I in charge – making decisions that drive my success and happiness – or are my clients running the show?
  3. Am I driving the ship – choosing the direction and making course corrections?

Saying no to get to yes…

My friend has everything he needs to change the course he’s on. And he needs to start by saying “No”.

He needs to say “No” to being stuck in an old business model where he does everything and then complains that nobody can do it as well as him.

He needs to set the terms for his clients, including charging enough to balance supply and demand. In other words, he needs to raise his fees until the volume of work is lowered to a manageable level.

And he needs to manage his mental health. It’s too easy to use work as an excuse for personal neglect.

I know all about this…

People might see me as strong and full of energy, but I get mentally drained from trying to be a full time entrepreneur living with an invisible disability. Nobody would know it by how much I love to work, but I get tired much easier than most people from keynote speaking gigs, keeping up with marketing, and just day to day life. 

I need to manage my health and protect my mental health. Here are three ways I’ve discovered shift from automatically saying Yes to sometimes saying No.

3 steps to discovering more balance

1) Check your assumptions

If you are drowning in work, chances are you need to revisit some old assumptions. For example, when I started work as keynote speaker I charged between $500 to $1500 for a keynote. I was new to the business and was thrilled to be paid anything!

After more training and experience I raised my fees. I lost some bookings, but I also got some – at the higher fee. And I remember being so nervous to be asking for the higher amount.

At one point, my friend, Chris Cummins, spend almost 45 minutes on the phone coaching me on how to quote my new fee without immediately blurting out: “But it’s OK if your budget is tight, I can do it for less!”

And then I raised my fees again. 

Every time I made the decision to raise my fees the fear returned: “Will I lose all my bookings? And will I be faced with an empty calendar?”

My assumption was that I needed my prices to be competitive. What I needed to understand was my clients were looking for the quality of person and presentation first and considering price later. I also needed to discover (I still struggle with this) that my mental health would suffer if I was juggling too much. 

I was better doing less. Much better.

2) Value yourself

It’s funny that we sometimes put such a high price on the time we “rent” to our clients, delivering the services they want, but we put so little price on our value. 

We eat food we know isn’t good for us. We stay up late watching shows that don’t enlighten us (or maybe shows we watched twice before?). And we tell ourself stories that we are less than some guru we found online who has more Instagram followers or drives a fancy car.

It’s time you valued yourself.

We spend SO MUCH TIME being busy, we never give our body or mind the time and space it needs to heal! All you need to do is SIT THERE and the body will take care of itself!

I know all about not valuing myself and burnout. I wrote and article describing the 3 strategies I use to escape the trap of burnout How to Recover From Burnout. One strategy is all about creating space to heal.

On the practical side, I have been using (and loving) the Headspace meditation app. They also have a PHENOMENAL pack you should listen to called Rehab

When I first listened to this it was incredible. I’ve gone through it at least twice since, it’s sooooo good! The recurring theme that host, Andy Puddicombe talks about is “You need to give your body the time and space it needs to heal… and it will on it’s own.”

3) Value your time

You need to start to value your time before anybody else does. It sounds cliche, but ultimately your greatest commodity is time. Time you trade for income, or volunteering, or writing, or just quiet time.

When you value your time, you become more valuable.

When I reassessed my speaking fees I was sending a message to my clients (and to myself) that I was valuable.

It’s no different than packing up work and going home a bit early to be with your children or taking 10 minutes to clear the clutter off your desk. When you choose how you invest your time you send a message to your brain that you are in charge.

And you send a message that you are valuable—you are worthy.

Making decisions that are first about me and my health and my mental health did come with it’s own set of challenges. But it was absolutely worth it. And it’s allowing me to do more in the big picture of my business and my life.

And I am happier because of it.

If you are struggling with anxiety, fatigue and depression because work is overwhelming it might be time to say “No”. Say No to clients that drain your energy and take up all your time. Say No to half-baked ideas (like creating that online course, or writing that book) that wearing you down and maybe need to happen some time later. 

And say No to putting yourself second and making excuses instead of taking charge of your day. 

This isn’t being greedy. This is an ethical way for you to create the time and space you need so that you can heal and continue to live the life you want to live.

Paralympian, keynote speaker, and founder of the corporate team building program, The Sledge Hockey Experience, Kevin help people change their perspective about life and people with disabilities.

The Well Blog comes from a universal belief in the power of words, and their proven ability to help change lives and to lead, work and live better.

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