Do you often feel like you’re biting off more than you can chew? Like no matter how many tasks you complete, you’re still always falling behind? We’re constantly encouraged to take on new projects and duties with the encouragement that it will help us get ahead or “get a leg-up” in tech. 

Today, however, I want to talk about the importance of saying no. Saying no to the things that don’t serve you or help you grow is really saying yes to you. When we’re overworked and overstressed, there is huge power in saying no. 

Saying No is Self-Care

It might be hard to say no to projects after being told so often to say yes to everything when starting off in your career. When you say no to projects or tasks, you’re setting a boundary. That boundary is extremely important when it comes to your self-care and mental clarity. 

And by now, you probably know how much I emphasize the importance of taking care of yourself and balancing your mental health and well-being with your career. We make this a priority in the DevelopHer Membership community. If you haven’t joined yet, consider checking it out here! I created the DevelopHer Membership to provide a supportive and encouraging space for hard-working women in tech to thrive and pursue their goals! 

Now I’m not suggesting that you say no to everything. I’m talking about finding a balance for yourself. Finding the proper work balance is key to creating a successful, productive, and long-lasting career. It’s essential to realize that not every project is necessary to say yes to in order for you to get ahead in tech.

Once you say no to the first thing, it’s going to be easier from there on out. Remember that it takes more energy to get something started than to keep it going – whether that’s building your network or losing weight! It can be applied to everything. Getting started practicing saying no to that which does not serve you or help you grow will be an essential factor in preventing you from becoming a yes person

Quit Trying to Please Everyone

A yes person is someone who tries to please everyone. Someone who agrees to do everything in hopes it will make her look good or better her career. A yes person overcommits herself. She says yes to every opportunity and overbooks her calendar. Does this sound like something you’re guilty of? Trust me, I’ve been there too, and take it from a seasoned vet in the tech industry – you’re never going to please everyone. And you should quit trying to do so. 

But wait – isn’t it essential to say yes to opportunities when you’re first getting started in your career? 

I’ve talked plenty about how one yes can change your life. I still stand by that! Early on, saying yes to more will ultimately help you figure out what you can start saying no to. At this point in my career, there are plenty of things I would say no to that I used to say yes to. 

So, what’s the winning formula? 

Be Strategic in What You Say Yes To.

As you move forward in your tech career, be selective about what you decide to put your energy towards. There will still be experimentation with this process. Sometimes you’ll say yes to things that you later realize you could have done without. That’s okay – it’s all a part of the process. 

The more I built my network and said yes to things, the more I could find signs of who was trying to use me, pick my brain, or sell me something. Now I’m pretty good at seeing those red flags before saying yes to people or projects, but it was only after years of trial and error. At this point in my career, I now thrive in the power of saying no to things that won’t serve me or help me grow. It all came from deciding to be strategic in what I would say yes to

When you are strategic with what tasks and projects you take on, you’re actually furthering your career. It’s what’s going to help you create a balance that fits your lifestyle. The more balanced your life feels, the more productive you’ll be. It’s a pretty simple formula when broken down that will only become easier the more you practice it. 

Go ahead and try it out today! Take a look at the projects on your calendar for this month, are there some that you could’ve said no to? Next time you’re asked to work on an assignment, ask yourself a simple question: does this project have the potential to help me grow or move my career further? If it doesn’t, remember, it’s time to start saying no, which is really a yes to you.

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