When to say no to good opportunities

Another month gone by and still, no progress.

You’re no further along than you were last month, maybe even last year.

You’re dealing with the same frustrations.

You’re battling the same challenges.

Even the feedback you’ve been given is the same.

When you ponder why you haven’t made progress towards your goals, it’s comforting to remind yourself how busy you’ve been and pat yourself on the back for all the things you’ve been doing.

There’s alot going on, you say.

I’ve been seizing so many opportunities

I’ve been stretched so thinly

I have fingers in so many pies.

This isn’t a one off.

You’ve had months like this. Maybe even years like this.

Doing more and more, but not getting very far.

That’s because progressing your career has never been about doing more of everything.

It’s about doing more of the things that will get you there, less of the things that won’t and being able to tell the difference.

One of the common mistakes I see you making is saying yes to every good opportunity that comes your way.

But just because an opportunity is a good one, doesn’t mean you should say yes to it.

There’s a time in your career when seizing every opportunity in front of you is how you progress.

But the more senior you get and the more opportunities you attract, the more discerning you need to be about the ones you seize and the ones you let go.

Not every good opportunity will move you closer to your goal.

Some will distract you away from it.

Others will spread you so thinly that you won’t have the time or bandwidth to even think about it, let alone proactively move towards it.

These are the ones to turn down.

If the thought of turning down a good opportunity makes you uncomfortable, I recommend these 4 steps:

Raise your self concept: Believe that you are someone who knows how to attract opportunities and will always be able to attract more in the future. My favourite way to do this is to practise the belief “I create my own luck” and collect all the evidence of how this is true.

Learn from the past: Think of an opportunity you’ve said yes to in the past, only to regret it later! Past regret can be a helpful guide for future decisions.

Consider the opportunity cost: how much time/effort/money will this opportunity cost? How could you use that same amount to get you closer to your goal or move you there faster?

Use your progression goal as a filter: Will this take me towards my goal or away from it? is a great question to ask of any opportunity before accepting it. This has typically been the most powerful question for me as it often reveals a “no” that I instinctively knew was the right answer but was choosing to ignore!

Not all good opportunities are created equal.

Don’t stretch yourself too thinly for a good opportunity that will make you busy but keep you stuck. Go for the ones that will move you forward.

P.S. In Be The First Progression for Black Lawyers I support you to keep progressing to your goal and I coach you on the decisions you make along the way. If you’re a mid to senior level black lawyer and you want to progress your career, I invite you to join. Book a free consult to find out if it’s right for you. Click here to book.

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