Learning to say no

At the end of last year, I went through a period of saying yes to things. Endless things and exciting events. All the things. In theory, it created a small writing pipeline that would build towards a future chapter.

Then I got acceptances and the deadlines started arriving. Bear in mind that I was doing my current PhD work and had to travel to most of these places. I did the late nights, squeezing a paragraph in here and there, managing to submit and block out pieces.

It fell apart relatively quickly. I really was not fun to be around nor producing either my best or competent work. Then I got an abstract rejection…

And I nearly cheered in a lecture hall. It was frustrating as I had spent time on the abstract. It was one less thing to think about, one less piece of research and writing to jam in. I could focus on other things.

I got a pass on an assignment and then the second rejection came in. It was on a piece that I had submitted a while ago and it tipped me over the edge.

I really wish that this Research Whisperer piece, Leveling up in saying ‘no’, had existed. It has pieced somethings together and I like the idea of the writing pipeline and time blocking. This would help with managing loads and being able to say no.

The one thing that I did not get from the post was the ability to internally say no. To want to really do something as it is fun but to realise that not everything can be done. It has taken some time to pull thing together. I have taken the rejections that I have had and taken them as advice.

I think that this might come back to focusing on an end goal. Things need to fall into that goal. As part of this, I have realised that some time there is a sanity in missing out.

Update: Avoiding The Bears has a response, Just say no, which ends:

Learn to say ‘no’, by all means. But understand what ‘no’ can’t do, too.

Saying no is political and has consequences. I am aware that I was very lucky and managed to get a couple of things accepted that may not have done. If one had not been, I would not have been in a such a state by early February.

In my case, it is a case of refocusing and using that to say no. It will need to be updated as time goes on and to accept that yes or no, actions have consequences.

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