Deciding What to Say ‘No’ to in a Fast-Paced World [W&S 66 ft Multi-hyphenate Realtor, Lecturer]

In the latest episode, the topic of discussion revolves around the importance of learning what to say no to and finding a better balance in our lives. With the increasing workload faced by many individuals in the new year, it becomes crucial to prioritise and make decisions that contribute to our overall well-being.

Introducing JJ Ong:

Before going into the topic, JJ, a multi-hyphenate himself, who wears many hats from musician to lecturer. He’s involved in various fields such as marketing, media, and real estate. JJ highlights his journey of self-realisation, and advocating for mental health and help others where he discovered the need to say no after years of exploring multiple avenues. His personal experiences make him an ideal guest to offer insights into the process of cutting out certain commitments.

Deciding What to Say No To:

JJ opened by saying, “As a multi-hyphenate myself, I’ve realised it’s time to say no to certain things and cut back to avoid burnout.” Anthony agreed maturity comes with experience: “In our 20s we want to say yes to everything, but our 30s bring clarity on what’s sustainable.”

JJ listed the different roles he used to take on and the ones he has decided to cut out. He mentions his freelance marketing work, which he completely stopped doing in late 2023 due to capacity constraints. Additionally, JJ is a lecturer at three different schools, teaching communication, media, and presentation skills. He also ran a media consultancy primarily focused on the entertainment industry, which he has now ceased, except for occasional requests from friends. JJ’s passion for music remains, but he now takes on projects selectively, only if he truly likes them. He also runs a media content production studio and hosts his own podcast. Lastly, JJ shares his commitment to advocating for mental health and raising awareness about conditions like Fibromyalgia, which he was diagnosed with due to overworking.

How do you know what to cut?

JJ said he looks at replaceability – teaching basic skills, for example, has many alternatives. Anthony measures bandwidth and priorities like family time versus opportunities.

Not all ‘nos’ are easy. When declining a loved one, JJ advised honesty: “Continuing may compromise my health and relationships after overworking before.” Honesty mitigates hurt when change is needed.

They also shared tried-and-tested ‘no’ frameworks:


  1. Cite Your Bandwidth

    As Anthony does, quantify your available hours and commit to non-negotiables like family first. New opportunities must fit this reality check.

  2. Learn Hard Lessons

    JJ cuts opportunities recalling unpaid work or toxic clients. Protect your livelihood by setting agreements like payment upfront to avoid past mistakes.

  3. Offer Value Additions

    When able, recommend alternatives like a freelancer you endorse. Doing a test session transfers your clients smoothly with your blessing.

Anthony’s Perspective:

Anthony, known for his ability to say no, shares his thoughts on decision-making. He likens it to climbing a mountain, where individuals must decide whether to finish their current climb or move on to the next peak. He emphasises the importance of identifying personal goals and evaluating whether the pursuit of new opportunities aligns with those goals. Anthony encourages introspection and considering factors like happiness, contentment, and time availability. Prioritisation becomes crucial as individuals must strike a balance between various aspects of their lives, such as family, work, and personal well-being.

Finding Balance and PrioritiSing:

Dawn and Anthony discuss the consequences of overworking and how it can negatively impact relationships and mental health. They emphasise the need to find a balance and prioritise non-negotiable aspects of life. Anthony suggests that sacrifices can be made in the short term, giving up certain non-negotiables to pursue specific goals. He highlights the temporary nature of decisions and the possibility of revisiting them in the future.

But what if guilt trips follow?

JJ said these reveal incompatibility: “If they don’t value you, let some bridges burn to care for yourself first.” Have confidence that saying no to the wrong clients finds the right fit.

Overall, mature ‘no’ skills stem from experience, self-reflection on priorities, and honest communication. Entrepreneurs who mean what they say see fuller lives and healthier businesses result.

Five Steps to Determine What to Say No To:

    • Reflect on personal goals and aspirations.
    • Evaluate the potential impact on happiness and contentment.
    • Consider time availability and prioritise non-negotiable aspects.
    • Assess the likelihood of success and alignment with long-term objectives.
    • Remember that decisions can be revisited and adjusted as circumstances change.

Learning to say no is an essential skill in today’s fast-paced world. Balancing one’s workload and priorities is crucial for maintaining mental well-being and nurturing relationships.

You can check their full interview on Wise & Shine, Episode 66 on Spotify, YouTube, Google podcast or Apple podcast for valuable insights into the process of deciding what to say no to and finding a better work-life balance. By evaluating personal goals, considering happiness and contentment, and prioritising non-negotiable aspects, individuals can make informed decisions that contribute to their overall fulfillment.

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