Many people believe that career advancement and success means saying “yes” every time opportunity knocks – but that is absolutely not the best path toward doing work that you are best suited for and will find the most rewarding.
Many people today, especially millennials, are looking for careers that are more than just something that “pays the bills.” People are looking for careers that are fulfilling through a sense of purpose, is meaningful and performs a valuable service.
So how do you find such a career? As you will see, the best way to get what you want is to say “no” to everything that is not what you want and only distracts you from reaching your desired destination.
Just say “no”
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
― Steve Jobs
When it comes to career, a good opportunity is not always what it appears on the surface. Everything has a “cost” of some kind and requires looking deeper to discover these hidden costs. Such costs may be time, energy and increased stress. While opportunity may come with higher income, you may also be getting more of the aforementioned items.
When it comes to say no at work, look for ways to shield yourself from things that are unimportant or can easily be handled by others. Don’t try to do everything yourself or believe that only you can do things right. Prioritize your time, meetings, and say no to everything that isn’t viable. Look for opportunities to delegate tasks to others whenever possible.
Ideas are cheap
Entrepreneurs, as well as, people in creative endeavors know that ideas are a dime a dozen. An idea is one thing, but the ability to execute an idea and bring it to fruition is where the rubber meets the road.
There are a million things you can do, but ask yourself this: “What can I do well?”
The answer to that question may be many things, so the next question is: “What can I do well that I feel satisfaction in doing?”
Even if you can do something well, if your heart isn’t in it – it will reflect in your work.
Picking the right opportunity
Granted, there are times in life when all of us have to – at least temporarily – do something other than what we would prefer to be doing. The need of immediate income may force us into a less-than our ideal type of job or career. When that happens, that does not mean that you stop pursuing your ultimate goal.
That said, we circle back to the idea of focusing on the job or career we want most.
You have to clearly define your goal and focus on it. Even if you are working one gig, while positioning yourself to jump to the next, consider how any job you take will affect your ultimate goal.
The cost of saying “yes”
There may come a time when you have to weigh things such as an opportunity to take another job, that also isn’t your dream job, for a bump in pay (whether marginal or significant).
However, if it still isn’t your dream job and something you consider only another temporary position on your way to your ultimate goal – what’s the trade-off for that?
By saying yes to a new position you may have to work harder, deal with more stress and perhaps even have less free time to obtain that raise in pay.
The increase in income might not be worth the sacrifice of your free time and energy that would be best spent focusing on getting the job and career you ultimately want.
In terms of long-range thinking, the lower paying job may actually be more beneficial by not getting in the way of your desired career destination. Saying yes to something now that isn’t what you inevitably want, may only make it harder for you to get where you truly desire to be.
Say no to other distractions
There are other distractions in your life that can whittle away at your energy and time. The problem with saying “yes” too often is that can lead to over-commitment, getting you involved in too many things. Saying “yes” only to make other people happy may be a situation in which you sacrifice your happiness for theirs.
You may need to say no to social events or leisurely activities that distract you from the focus in preparation you need to achieve your goal. That’s not to say that everyone doesn’t need some time for rest and relaxation – that’s important too. But it’s also easy to get too much of a good thing, so be choosy about how you spend your free time and how much of it you spend.