Pick me! A strategic approach to saying yes

Recently, Powrsuit has focused on removing unnecessary burdens from our lives: not taking on other people’s problems or workload, sharing household chores, and cutting negative self-talk. These career-limiting habits take up too much of our time. We need to address them to achieve our goals without sacrificing mental and physical health. But removing burdens that don’t move us forward has one massive side-effect – more time to do what we want. 

It’s time to get strategic about what we say ‘yes’ to

A strategic yes means putting our hands up for opportunities that take us another step towards where we want to go. In the noise of everyday life, it can be hard to distinguish them from the pile of tasks on our to-do lists. We all know how easy it is to fill every hour, but many of us haven’t taken the time to prioritise what we should be doing. It’s time.

How to identify (and action) a strategic yes

1. Set some goals

If strategic yeses take us towards our goals, we need to know what those goals are first. Not a goal setter? We didn’t think we were either. However, without much work, most of us can identify the key things we want to achieve in the short to mid-term – in life and at work (psst: these are your goals!). 

Spend 3-5 minutes (put a timer on) thinking about where you want to be in 6 months, a year, or even a few years from now. To help you get started, Nat’s shared her goals:

2. What will get you there?

Your goals are why you’re taking action. Next, consider how to hit them. Brainstorm 5-10 things you could do that would take you closer. Take as long as you need, but it’s helpful to list them in a notepad or digital doc, so you can keep adding different activities as you think of them.

To give you an idea of the types of things you might include, here’s Nat’s first crack:

3. Say yes to those things 

Now that you know the activities that will take you closer to your goal, you have identified your strategic yeses. Some are in your control (e.g. honing an elevator pitch), lock time in your calendar to do them now – even if it’s a few weeks away. You’ll come across other opportunities during conversations, scrolling socials, or around the workplace.

Remember, a strategic yes isn’t always a response to a question – no one has to invite you to take on a new project before you can proactively put your hand up.

A strategic yes is one or more of:

  • It will increase my visibility in the organisation.
  • It plays to my strengths; I’m great at it.
  • It could lead to a promotion and/or pay rise.
  • The outcome can be measured and reported on.
  • It aligns with my values, or fills me with joy.
  • It will help me stretch out of my comfort zone.

Strategic time is never wasted time 

Strategic yeses don’t mean sacrificing downtime; in fact, they can create more of it. If one of your goals is to relax more, say an enthusiastic yes to curling up with a good book, going out for a walk, or bingeing Succession well after everyone else has finished (not speaking at all from personal experience). Instead of feeling guilty about taking time for yourself, you can genuinely check out, knowing it’s an activity you have chosen to prioritise.

30 second action:

Identify one goal you’re working towards.

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