Someone wants something from you.
Maybe it’s a painting “exactly” like your latest landscape. Only she’d like it in cooler colors to match her newly redecorated living room.
Or maybe it’s one of your signature sterling necklaces, but “could you do it in gold and add a sapphire? I know you don’t like to work in gold, but all of my jewelry is gold and I really don’t wear silver.”
You know you can give them what they want.
You know they’d be happy with what they get.
Here’s the question you have to answer: Will it make you happy? If it does, great. Go for it!
Maybe you’re on the fence. Sure, you could use the money, and you certainly don’t want to disappoint a friend. But, gosh, you really don’t want to do it. Something just doesn’t seem right.
My advice? There is absolutely no reason in the world good enough for you to take on projects you’re so uncomfortable with.
Here are three reasons you should turn down opportunities that don’t feel right.
1. You will end up resenting the person who asked you to do it.
2. You dislike the idea so much that you procrastinate and procrastinate. Somehow, it festers and becomes bigger than life–a monster that invades your every thought.
3. You will eventually make good on your promise, but you’ll hate the resulting work and remain angry with yourself that you ever said Yes in the first place.
The only solution is to turn down such so-called opportunities. I say “so-called” because they can’t be opportunities if they lead only to frustration and disappointment.
It’s not always easy to turn them down. Sometimes they come from good customers and collectors. Other times they’re from friends and family. Of course you don’t want to disappoint these people. But you have to listen to your gut. It’s usually right. And someone who wants to see you succeed will understand your point of view.
I know a little about this. Trust me, I can’t afford to turn down clients. I need all of them I can get.
But sometimes I just have a gnawing feeling after talking to a potential client. I know that no matter what I do or say, it will never be enough for them. They just don’t seem satisfied with my feedback.
I either politely such people 1) I’m not the person they’re looking for or 2) I’ll think about it and get back to them. When I do contact them again, I go back to my first option: telling them I can’t help them and, hopefully, offering an alternative for them.
You can do this, too. If you don’t like to work with gold in your jewelry, offer your customer the name of someone who does and who would probably be more than happy to get the work. Ditto for the cat portrait in a different style.
You’re not sending people to your competition; you are providing an invaluable service. They’ll appreciate that.
Think of all the times you wish you had said No to an opportunity that came your way.
What’s the worst thing that can happen when you say no? What’s the best thing that can happen when you say no? Does it bring you peace of mind?
Does it free you to do the things you really want to do?
Develop a standard rejection line for when these chances come your way. If you don’t have one ready, always say you’ll think about it before agreeing to do it. Then come up with a list of referrals–other artists who might be happy to work on such opportunities.