I’ve been writing about saying no lately, which is a discipline that has been kind of necessary for me to work on over the last couple of years. But before I move on to other topics I want to spend some time on the flip side, and talk briefly about the value in saying yes. I don’t think it would be fair to have this discussion without acknowledging that it’s not necessarily easy to say no, and that is true in part because many of the reasons to say yes are legitimate, valid, and compelling.
Why say yes?
Saying yes to a project or an opportunity is a basic way to build your career through developing new skills, experiences, or relationships. While you are gathering experience through your daily responsibilities on the job, you can be doubling up on your learning by working on a project outside of work too.
If someone is offering to pay you, then money most certainly can be a reason to say yes! Everyone will have a different point at which some money is enough money–figure out what yours is and it will be easier to know when to say yes or no.
Do you love to present workshops? Write blog posts? Review books? Whatever your favorite thing to do is, saying yes to extra projects gives you a chance to do more of what you find energizing and enjoyable. Or maybe a project gives you a chance to work with some great people. Saying yes to fun is a completely legit strategy.
By the same token, saying yes might mean not looking for a passion project, but instead taking a turn on the non-flashy committees that exist to help us do the essential work of our profession or our community.
Is your boss asking you to say yes and do something on behalf of your department or your library? Sometimes the reality is it is more politic to say yes than no. Or maybe your boss sees a nascent skill set in you that they’d like to help foster. Being open to saying yes in that case might send you in an exciting new direction!
One last true thing about saying yes and saying no:
One of the reasons that it’s easier lately for me to say no is because I’ve said so many yesses. I want to be really frank about that. As worn out as I let myself become, I still can’t feel a whole lot of regret about any of the projects I took on. I think they were pretty much all awesome opportunities and while perhaps they would have felt better spreading out over ten years instead of 5 or so, I can’t point to anything and say, “That’s the one thing I shouldn’t have done.” I’m grateful for all of it. So I am not feeling such an overwhelming urge to do all the things in part because I’ve already done many of them! Now that I have, I have a better sense of what projects suit me best and which are the most exciting to me, and perhaps even through which ones I can help make the most difference going forward.
That’s a pretty good result of saying yes.