The Key to Asking for What You Want

This past February I made my somewhat “big” career decision. I left my first 9-5 office job since college. But making that decision definitely wasn’t easy at first. You see, working in a small marketing agency was certainly a formative experience for me both personally and professionally. I met some wonderful people, nurtured & shaped my department, and gained knowledge in the digital marketing industry. I learned to be quick on my feet, be creative & strategic, juggle tons of tasks, all while being the only one in my role.

But all this aside, my heart wasn’t in it. And if I’d stayed, I’d only be doing the company and my colleagues a disservice. I wouldn’t continue to give my best work or self. Arriving to the point of knowing what I wanted (or didn’t want) was the easy part; asking for it was another thing. It took almost three months for me to muster up the courage to ask.

Earlier this year, I wrote this post about Turning the Page and being more intentional in life choices. You know the kind of decision-making I’m talking about, right? The decisions that will contribute to your happiness, give you sleep-filled nights, and lead you to better outcomes. Instead of the ones that give you anxiety, account for those sleepless nights, and either make you feel like or cause you to break out in hives.

That’s exactly how I felt in December 2018. I was nervous — what would my boss think? I was scared — what if I’m no longer needed in the company? And I feared rejection — what if my boss says no to my proposition? Am I ready for the next step? I thought about several different proposals for each scenario. I even drafted up a script for each, though none of them made me content. Then I had a moment of reflection; I knew I could either be passive and just let it roll off my back, or I could be intentional and direct with my words and ask for what I wanted. I had become so adjusted to small talk around the office, but this time I had to forget dancing around topics. I had to forget letting things be because I thought it’d be easier than addressing it. I had to go big.

Jackpot. From that point on, I vowed to be direct, initiate the tough conversation, say what I mean, and not shy away from asking exactly for what I want.

Here are a few things that helped me when asking big:

1. It’s OK to still be polite. 

I know there are folks out there who are notorious for getting what they want, and they take no prisoners in the process. Well believe you me, the nice guy/girl finishes first in this case. As the saying goes, “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Keep that in mind during your ask. You can be direct and unflinching, but kind.

2. Will I be alright with a “no?” 

Before I even move forward with asking, I think about the outcome being a flat out “no.” And how would it make me feel if that’s the response. While a “no” definitely causes a slight lump in my throat, it’s also sort of refreshing to me to know that it could result in change and growth. Maybe the good ol’ when-one-door-closes-another-opens is happening right then and there. If I don’t have a backup plan or a counter-offer, I have to be comfortable with moving on or at least gear myself up.

3. Being a straight shooter saves you time. 

I’m definitely not one to spend too much time skirting around a topic when it comes to my professional life. Think about it, the time you spend being too nervous to be direct will likely end in you feeling even more frustrated because nothing was settled. Being direct means being upfront, candid, and will spare you of drawn out conversations in the long run.

4. Is it that big of a deal? 

I’ve been called dramatic my entire life, so nearly every major moment seems intensified. As I think back on last December, I have to give myself kudos for knowing the importance behind me making that ask. It wasn’t necessarily just for more money or a role promotion, but more so to see if my worth was actually valued at the company. You have to decide if and why the ask or decision truly matters to you.

If I could ask you to takeaway anything from this piece, it’s that you realize your intent behind every decision you make. You are empowered enough to ask for what you want. You deserve to have a life that is fulfilled, however you envision that. Happy living!

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