Know When To Say “No!”

Editor’s note: Lori Fenstermaker responded to my inquiry last month for 2011 goals and thoughts on recruiting industry trends with the following. I felt it was a strong statement, especially during the holidays, and worth of sharing in a post all its own.

My goal both professionally and personally [in 2011] is to simply say “No” when I should.

I am the kind of person that wants to help everyone and everything, so often that I feel like I run a non-profit sometimes for all the free work I do. Career counselor, resume service, online profile helper, giving names of people someone else will make a placement fee on, the list goes on and on. And as a parent, signing up to help with things I know I don’t have time to do. Don’t get me wrong: I like helping and doing my part but not at the cost of my loved ones and my paying clients. When you say yes to everything it really sucks up your “focused” time and there is no replacing that.

Over the last couple of years since I ventured into the software world and started not only taking on sourcing work but other consulting projects I find myself inundated with requests of all sorts. In the past I had only focused on IT searches in the Midwest. Easy. It was very black and white.

Now, our reach has grown and we are getting requests from all over the country to help with a variety of projects.

I was recently contacted by a great company. They are struggling with hiring good talent and are getting clobbered by the competition with regard to employment brand image and have zero social media presence. They were ready to sign a retainer and hire us to help them. The project sounded really fun. And then I thought about it, and realized we cannot be everything to everybody; just because it sounded like a great challenge doesn’t mean it is the best choice for me or the client company. Over the past year I realized I’ve been saying yes to just about everything professionally because I love recruiting projects (and who wants to turn down business?) and personally because I love my family and want to be an active participant in my children’s lives.

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Time is valuable and you never get it back. Could I have done a good job on this project? Probably, but I would have killed myself reading up on a new industry with entirely new challenges that I know nothing about. I would have taken my focus off my core business and probably missed a lot of fun times with my family and friends.

After graciously bowing out of the project, I vowed to make a change and assess every opportunity carefully and realize it is okay to say “No” and that people actually respect you when you explain why. With the time that I get back from saying “No” I hope to say “Yes!” to my family more and have a little more balance in my life.

How do you balance your work and personal life? Is it hard for you to say “No” to work projects and/or family commitments? How do you keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed and overcommitted, especially during the holidays?

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4 Comments on “Know When To Say “No!”

  1. Thanks for the perspective. I’m guilty of much the same myself. We simply can NOT say “yes” to every opportunity that comes our way – paid or unpaid. We’ve only got so much time each day.

    Great post Lori. Use the time wisely!

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