Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Learning to say no.

With a toddler in the house, you'd think that saying "No" would come fairly easily to me, since I hear it approximately 75 times a day. In reality, however, the over-achieving side of my personality finds it incredibly difficult. Just a few short years ago, I said a resounding YES to just about every professional opportunity that came my way. Serve on the board of directors? You bet. Help start a new networking group? I'm your gal.

Now, for better or worse, I find that I'm having to say no more often. Within the last few weeks, I've had to turn down two amazing opportunities. One example: I was recently asked to write a guest blog post on social media marketing technology. I agreed enthusiastically right off the bat, but said that it would have to be delayed a few weeks since I was going to be attending a conference, and would that timing still be okay? Somehow, we never nailed down a deadline. Fast forward a few weeks, and suddenly, I have zero (and I mean ZERO) time to devote to writing a guest post: I am absolutely inundated at the office, and simply cannot carve out the time when I get home. (I was shocked to discover that it's been nearly a month since I've had a chance to even post here. Shame, shame. Where did the last four weeks go?) In any case, when we finally resumed our conversation, I was forced to take a raincheck.

Another example: I was just invited to serve on the marketing committee of a well-known industry organization. This particular organization is one that I admire a great deal, but my company is involved elsewhere. And so, I decided that it made more sense to focus my attention on getting involved with an organization with which my firm has a stronger relationship.

I shudder to think I'm burning bridges every time I have to decline these types of opportunities, but the honest truth is this: I would love nothing more than to get involved, but just can't devote the time. I always used to think that was such a cliche; now I know better. Being a working mom has forced me to prioritize like never before, and often that means the "extracurricular" activities that I've thrived on for years get pushed to the side.

Have you ever declined an opportunity and lived to regret it? Or has cultivating an ability to say "No" paid off in spades? I'm really struggling with this one. Here's hoping that it gets easier.