short cutting takes longer in the end

Recently I short-changed a woman who hired me to do a specific task for her. Even though I knew at the time that I was short cutting the job, my rational mind was not intact enough to say What the hell are you doing?

The awesome thing is she called me out on it. While dreadfully uncomfortable and awkward, it’s opened the space for me to look at why I did it (or didn’t do it very well).

  • I was motivated by money. Yes, we could talk all day about how there’s a necessary energetic exchange and it’s a business and I have to buy food… the point is I was motivated only by money. This speaks right to my scarcity script.
  • I knew I didn’t want to work with this woman. We are, you could say, not an energetic match.
  • I did not consider my overall workload or available energy to bring on a project like this.
  • I kept procrastinating and finally had to force myself to address the project. And when I did, I side-stepped, tiptoed, and did the bare minimum that might pass as what I said I would do. Maybe somewhere in that process is an “in” to interrupt the pattern.
  • This advice is everywhere: only do the things you want to do. If it doesn’t excite you, it isn’t your project. Ultimately there will not be money or value or reward in making yourself do it. Since I knew I didn’t want to do it, perhaps there would have been more integrity in finding her another resource or giving her a refund.
  • Saying No is hard to do when it’s something you really want… but it seems to be hard in general. People pleasing? Expectations? Habit? Laziness?
  • This is incentive to check in with my work ethic. I can be very selfish and ego-centered, and in those times I lose connection with why I’m in this line of work in the first place (because I really truly love it, love helping people, & want to live a mindful life).
  • And now I get to redo the project. I get a do-over. Cuz if you don’t learn it the first time, it’ll be back. (Pardon me while I pretend to be grateful for the lesson.)

So… any confessors? Any experience like this to share? Are you good at sensing when you won’t want to do a task? Are you good at saying No?

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7 Responses to “short cutting takes longer in the end”


  1. 1 Emma September 20, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    i will heartily agree with the bit about it being hard to say no, and add that i think this is more of a problem for women than for men (speaking in general). in this culture, girls are raised to please and boys will be boys. be a feminist: say no.

  2. 2 Laura Johnson September 20, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Thanks for this post–this touches on a guilty feeling I’ve had in the back of my mind for months and is inspiring me to do something about this this week. My Mom’s friends purchased 12 hour long foot massages from me for my Mom last Christmas. I tried to say “No” to accepting money for the massages–I wanted them to agree to some kind of trade. I realize now that I should have said No to the massages–I definitely don’t want to give them and knew it when they asked me. Now it’s September and I am seven massages behind. Every time I feel guilty I think “well it was such a piddly amount of money anyway what do they expect?” I guess they probably expect me to do what I said I would for the money I accepted. I’m going to give a partial refund and an appology and 2 more massages. Thanks for helping me figure it out.

  3. 3 Kelly Parkinson September 21, 2010 at 3:12 am

    Oh my goodness, at first I read that as a 12-hour-long foot massage. And not just one, but a series! Phew, I don’t even think I could be on the receiving end of that deal.

    I did take a shortcut today, and the irony is I did it after reading this post and agreeing with everything you said.

    The bottom line is I shouldn’t have said yes to proofing my boyfriend’s newsletter on a Monday morning.

    I’m grateful for people who don’t judge me when I screw up. And I’m also grateful for people who don’t try to guilt me when I say no.

    He didn’t and he wouldn’t, so why do I put so much pressure on myself to try to do EVERYTHING on my plate in one morning?

    I think the time has come for complete Accomplishment Amnesty.
    Need to turn 3 years old again and just say No to everything like I just learned what the word meant.

  4. 4 Jacquelyn September 21, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Michelle, I am in awe of your honesty here.

    I’ve had a similar problem when clients ask for extras after signing a contract.

    I need to program myself to say, “I’d be happy to do that, but since it’s outside of the scope of our original agreement, it will be $___…”

    Still can’t figure out what is blocking me from saying this. The need to please? The fear of losing their future business?

  5. 5 Amy --- Just A Titch September 21, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Ugh, I never say no to anything involving money, even if I hate it. I really hate that about myself. It’s interesting, because my boyfriend is a professional poker player, and he has what he calls an “hourly rate” which sounds snotty, sure, but it’s basically what he feels his time is worth. Now, when I have an opportunity, he encourages me to see if it’s within my “hourly” and if it’s not, I am trying to get better at saying no, instead of shortcutting or being resentful.

    It’s tough. I totally feel ya on this post.

  6. 6 Jen @ Brilliant Well-being September 21, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    I am feeling this post on so many levels. Thank you.

  7. 7 blogasana September 22, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    you gals are the best.

    @emma – i completely agree.

    @laura – congrats on both sharing and figuring out a solution that feels good to you! isn’t that nagging feeling awful?! i hope it’s lightened now.

    @kelly – accomplishment amnesty. you are genius. i think i’m going to start practicing my 3-year-old NO. i’ll let you know what my husband thinks =)

    @jacquelyn – it’s so great that you have the sentence ready! yes, saying it is a whole different ball of goo… i bet/hope that once you do say it, it will be easier each time.

    @amy – wow, i suddenly want to be a poker player! =) the hourly rate is such a great approach. and for each of our unique talents, we are SO worth it!

    @jen – feeling you back… thanks for commenting!


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