Charting My Way to No

Those who know me know that I have a problem saying “No” to good projects and organizations.  I want to help, and there are a lot of really good opportunities out there.  But, sadly, it turns out that humans are essentially a closed system.  I can’t add hours to my day.  I may have as many hours in my day as Beyonce, but we both only have 24.  In those 24, I have to get a lot in, and if I do one thing, I can’t do others.

Also, very sadly, it turns out that I don’t have an unlimited budget.  If we spend money on something, I can’t spend it on others.  That means I have to choose where my time goes, and our firm has to decide where our money goes.  But how do we do it when there are so many good options?  

If you’ve been reading since the beginning, you know I’m a lover of strategic planning, methods and processes.  So I use my obsession for them for good instead of evil.  First,  I determine my mission, my goals.  What is my endgame?  Then I build a decision matrix to help me analyze if the opportunity helps me reach my goal.  If it doesn’t, then it’s a “No, thank you.”

For example, I have chosen for philanthropy purposes, my money will go to support equality with a special emphasis in literacy.  There are a lot of wonderful organizations out there that do fabulous work and deserve support.  But, I have to say “no” to some things.  If it doesn’t impact equality, then I am going to have to decline to preserve my bank account.

For our firm, we focus on business transactions.  You may have the best personal injury case ever, but we will pass on it.  It doesn’t help us, and it doesn’t help you for us to say yes.

It is rarely fun telling someone no, but by doing so, it helps me to be able to say yes to other opportunities.  The trick is to think about it ahead of time so you know when it is time to answer with either “yes” or “no”.  And feel good that you aren’t the only one with a chart to help you say “no”.  I’m right there with you.

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