Saying Yes Can Help Your Career

There is a plethora of career planning tools and advice available online. These can be very helpful when considering your next career move, but sometimes simply being brave enough to try something new can open up the best opportunities.

the word 'yes' made out of cardboard lettersThere is a plethora of career planning tools, advice and guidance available online. These can be very helpful when considering your next career move. At the very least they get you thinking in detail about your career. However, the difficulty is that you rarely know what is round the corner. This means that planning can only get you half the way; the other half is taking advantage of what comes your way.

So, to the usual career planning advice I would add “be open to new opportunities”. Some people are born inquisitive and enquiring, but for those of us more cautious it can be a learned skill too. The benefit of cultivating a more inquisitive demeanour is that you will experience many more career alternatives and opportunities.

Danny Wallace wrote a funny and thought provoking book called Yes-man (Jim Carrey made it into a fairly dreadful film). In it Danny realised he was in a rut, doing the same things over and over, so he made the commitment to say yes to any question, large or small, for a whole year.

This resulted in him travelling and extending his horizons hugely.

Some years ago I decided to do something similar. I don’t have the time or freedom to say yes to everything, so I have decided to say maybe to most things, yes to some things and commit to cultivate a bit more openness.

I had just left Deloitte after 14 years and I had no idea what to do next. So I took 4 months to explore different options from contracting; joining HM Treasury; writing a book… Through exploring these options I learnt loads about myself.

Some things I learnt were frustrating – for example I am not a creative writer, the only thing worse than my prose is my poetry. Some of the things I learnt were fascinating (to me). For example, I am on the 99th percentile for competitiveness!

On small things it works a treat; the next time you go to a restaurant ask the waiter what the best thing on the menu is, order the first thing they suggest and you may love what arrives! Commit to exploring public spaces. Any time you have 15 minutes free, pop into buildings you walk past every day and explore the world you usually walk by.

It can work well on larger things too, especially in work. Volunteer for new projects at work or try to work with different people as much as possible. Take up the mantel when someone goes on holiday – by saying yes to that extra work in the short term you could reap the benefits down the line.

At its fundamental, the idea of saying ‘yes’ simply improves and increases your exposure to your environment. This means that you will learn more about what drives and motivates you – I think – than any online planning tool can tell you. It also means that your environment will take more notice of you – people will know more about you, who you are and what you can offer.

And most importantly, if you are in a role which you detest, have the confidence to say yes to a new and different opportunity. Don’t accept what you have in front of you as the only route available.

If you decide to try any of these suggestions I would love to hear how things work out for you. Get in touch with us at Grovelands.

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