The Year of Sometimes Saying No

So I’m sure most of you have heard of the book The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  It’s not one that I’ve read, though I do plan to… at some point…. eventually.  It sounds interesting, a year of saying yes to every opportunity that comes along and it certainly (from what I understand, not having actually read the book) seems to have worked for Shonda.  But I’m taking a different tact this year, one that will hopefully work for me.

You see, I’m a yes person naturally.  I pretty much say yes to everything.  I remember distinctly, burned into my brain, the advice Dad gave me when I got my first taste of employment as a 15 year old working the checkouts at Coles – ‘You say YES.  If they ring you with work, with extra shifts, with extended hours, you say yes.  If you don’t say yes, THEY WILL NEVER RING AGAIN!’  Okay, so that maybe my teenage brain exaggerating the message slightly, but you get the idea and I GOT THE MESSAGE.  I ALWAYS said yes – I earned quite a sum for someone without any real expenses.  And I have to admit it paid off.  I saved that money and then, again thanks to Dad, I invested it.  Years later that investment paid for my first car and a significant portion of our first home deposit.  That advice, given to fifteen year old me, has pretty much ruled my life for the last twenty years.  Mostly that’s been a good thing, however I’m at a very different point in my life now and I’ve decided to be more discerning with what I say yes to.

This year is the year of sometimes saying no.  And I said my first no quite recently.  It was invigorating, liberating, empowering….. and kinda pretty darn scary too.  You see I got offered a job, a proper non-teaching, paying (though not well) job.  I’d applied for this job.  On paper it looked great.  Then I interviewed for this job (terribly – the fact that they even wanted to hire me came as quite a shock, I wouldn’t have hired me!).  I came to realise, during the interview, that this job might not actually be the job for me (it was all KPIs, sitting at a desk on the phone etc).  Finally, a friend gave me another piece of advice that really stuck.  She said when you interview for a job, it’s not just them deciding whether you’re right for the job, but also you deciding if the job is right for you.  It was a revelation!  And I realised this job was not right for me….. so I said no thanks.

Saying no to an actual paid job when I currently don’t have an income feels like a pretty big deal and I’m well aware of the fortunate position I’m in to be able to do that.  But given that I am in that position it also seems crazy to take a job that I know is not going to be a good fit.  And so, my gap year at 37 years old continues with the dream goal of being able to do something that I love, perhaps something involving writing (that really would be a dream) or books.

This whole changing career thing at close to forty is a pretty daunting prospect.  A little voice keeps whispering ‘You’re too old for this” and “You should have it figured out by now” but I’m trying to keep those other more positive voices shouting over the top of that little one.  I’d love to hear of other people’s experiences/advice about career changes so if you’ve got something to share please comment (or share this post with others that might be able to offer me some insight).

Until next time….



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2 Responses to The Year of Sometimes Saying No

  1. Ren says:

    That sounds very wise to me! I’m in the same boat (I love the name – the “gap year.” ) If I were sensible and followed the work ethic my parents instilled in me, I’d be emergency teaching at the moment or working in a cafe. Both realistic options, but neither what I want to do. Money is tight and something may have to give soon but I feel like I owe it to myself to chase some dreams this year. Especially given that I’m not getting any younger. I don’t want to regret not trying. If for no other reason, I majored in Creative writing at uni so I might as well make my debt worth it!

    • Barbara Good says:

      We can be on gap years together. I’m envious of your creative writing degree – why weren’t you teaching English when we worked together?? It’s something I think I should have done, instead of the obscure subjects I chose (and adored) but got me nowhere. Hello Anthropology! How’s the writing going? I feel like I have a lot to say at the moment, so have been doing lots of writing on and offline. Having said that I’ve also started picking up the odd CRT day here and there. I really don’t want more than two days a week, but I know once the money starts coming in it will be hard to go back. Good luck with your adventures.

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