When to say NO to that big project

Have you ever said no to a project you really wanted to work on, because it was getting in the way of your wider dreams?

If you – like me – are a multi-passionate entrepreneur, you may find yourself in situations where you’re weighing up multiple projects, each of which tickle your fancy in some way. If you’re a (recovering) over-committer – also like me – you might find yourself tempted to just shoehorn them all into your busy life somewhere, and simply accept the rising stress levels and personal sacrifices as the cost of pursuing your dreams.

Sound familiar? That’s how I found myself – twice in the last six months – in discussions with publishers about writing books. Each of the ideas interested me on some level and certainly they fit with my Golden Thread of inspiring others through the power of words.

In each case, I got quite far down the track of planning how to work on the book. I was doing all sorts of convoluted planning calculations to figure out how I could juggle my time between serving my clients, growing my business, my voluntary work, parenting – especially over the school holidays – and researching and writing the books.

The trouble with writing books is that they are all consuming. Publishing schedules are tight and if you are writing to someone else’s timetable there is unlikely to be much spare time for pursuing your independent goals and projects – especially if you are juggling work with being the lead parent in the family.

Before long I was making complex bargains with myself. I told myself, “It’ll only be a few hard months… The kids will cope… it will all be worth it…”

It took a good friend and mastermind buddy to call me out.

She asked me what I really wanted – not just over the next few months, but over the next few years – and how the books were going to move me closer to those goals.

My answers were clear: to inspire more women to capture and share their gifts, to launch my first group class, to create more momentum in my business, to grow my income, to move our family closer to true location independence, to have more time with family and friends and more fun and freedom in my life than there has been in the last wee while.

It took a few days for that conversation to sink in – and for me to realise that the books were really ego-driven projects.  Of course they interested me and of course I’d love to write them, but they would not move me closer to my business goals. They were in effect, interesting diversions. Fun side projects. And enormous distractions.

Reluctant as I am to admit it, I had become attached to my “bestselling author” status. I was flattered that publishers wanted to work with me and hopeful that the books would add to my collection of bestselling titles.

When I looked at the facts, I realised that rather than propelling me forward, the books would hold me back. Each one would suck up all my time for a full quarter of the year, and then even more time down the track for edits and proof reading. Each one would put my business dreams on hold, interrupt what momentum I had already gained, make me less available to my clients and my kids and leave little time (or creativity) for business writing or product creation.

I knew from experience that in order to enter the “writing cave”, I would have to ask my husband and my children to make sacrifices. That I would give up lots of summer weekends and evenings. That my health and wellbeing would end up secondary considerations, as I strove to meet publishing deadlines without dropping the ball in my business.

So I took a deep breath and said no.

If you’d told me  a year ago that I would turn down opportunities to write two books, I would have said you were bonkers. I’ve wanted to write books my entire life! I love the research and writing process. I love seeing my name on the cover or in the credits, not to mention on the shelf in the bookshop.

But if I had let my ego stay in control, I would have derailed progress towards my long-term goals. The busyness of the books would have given me the perfect excuse to procrastinate over putting myself out there. My business would have stalled as I would have had no time for blogging or marketing. I most likely would not have launched my Write to the Heart of Your Business group class this spring/fall. I would have had to start all over again a few months down the track.

There are more books in my future, I feel sure of that. But this was not the right time for me to commit to a book.

Are you letting ego goals get in the way of your business goals? Is “busyness” holding you back from the life and business you really want?

Of all the things in your to do list right now, which is the one that will move you closest to your big audacious goals?

Let me know in the comments below.

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Christine Sheehy will help you refine your core message, find your authentic voice and show up boldly online, so you can grow your tribe of loyal followers AND your business. She teaches women entrepreneurs how to consistently create engaging content and stand out in a noisy online world, through journalling challenges, messaging coaching, copywriting and intimate writing retreats. Originally from New Zealand, Christine currently writes, dreams (and persistently tries and fails to give up coffee, baguette and cheese) from an alpine village in the south of France.

  • Julie Bhosale
    Posted at 08:30h, 02 December Reply

    A very interesting and insightful blog – as someone right in the thick of it I have full appreciation for knowing what it takes to write effectively and I love the ‘writing cave’ – you have given me something to consider for the future and what I want to create moving forward – your work is amazing xxx

    • christineMC
      Posted at 09:06h, 02 December Reply

      Thanks so much Julie, I am glad it resonated. I still don’t find it easy to say no, but it helps to be really clear on your long-term goals and how each project contributes to the whole. I will go back into my writing cave for sure, it just needs to be for the right reasons.

  • Helen
    Posted at 08:58h, 02 December Reply

    I love that distinction – soul goal or ego goal. Fantastic.

    • christineMC
      Posted at 09:07h, 02 December Reply

      Thanks Helen. It’s all about keeping the big juicy goal in mind and not getting distracted by the shiny things along the way. Still a work in progress for sure!

  • Fiona
    Posted at 12:54h, 02 December Reply

    You are so on point ! That ego call is so strong 🙂 great reminder for me to stick to the path I know will take me to where I want to go even though I still don’t have all the “how will it happen” sorted out .

    • christineMC
      Posted at 13:53h, 02 December Reply

      You are right Fiona – it can be HARD to resist. Got to try and stay focused on where we are heading!

  • wendy
    Posted at 12:52h, 03 December Reply

    Lovely thanks Christine, perfect timing for this month and making decisions for next year !

    • christineMC
      Posted at 13:32h, 03 December Reply

      Awesome Wendy – so glad it helped!

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