Should we decline assignments we "don't like" when we're just starting our journey?

Is it okay for us to decline some task or assignment when in junior positions and when we are actually starting our career?

This is kind of a tricky question, and if you want to know my thoughts on this, keep on reading... If not, well, no hard feelings, maybe you're missing out, maybe you aren't.

Okay, let me know put this in some context - several days ago, I had a conversation with my friend about how a junior colleague of theirs has declined participation on a project because they didn't like the technology stack of it. Both of us, me and my friend, work in IT industry, so we kind of were on the same page. And to both of us this decision was a bit strange. We felt a bit condescending to their colleague, wondering if the person in place to decline this for the reason of simply not liking it?

Was that even possible? Are you able to decline something at work and not bear (some) consequences? Those might be some of your questions... As it turned out, it was possible, and it should be possible without bearing any consequences. This thing being possible is another question, which I'll not address in this text. It depends a lot of the company culture you are working in, your confidence, the way you state the issue you have with the assignment, etc.

General thought of this text is - should you or should you not decline the project if you don't like it? And below are my two cents on this, if two cents were some random text on some random blog that is.

This might be one train of thoughts - that task is not for me! I am aware that I recently started here, but, you know what schools I've finished, and just to be given that task? If this is the case, you are in the wrong train and you must consider switching stations. That train will not get you far, unless you are really stubborn, and most people aren't no matter how smart they are.

You might go in a different direction - okay, this thing is most certainly not for me, not on my radar, but what can I learn from it? I would not decline the opportunity to learn something new, no matter how much I don't like the task at hand. And that is how we get to the most important thing here - learning! This means that you are more of a growth mindset[1] person, which I fancy myself of being, and that you will tackle almost every challenge with the learning mindset. You'll find out that the things you will learn from this assignment cannot measure to the things you wouldn't if you did decline it, just because you didn't like it.

What can help us to start in the correct mindset is to see something we don't like not as a blocking point that will be a major problem for us, but concentrate on what things that we can learn from it. This all sounds like some buzz phrase, but it really is of great help. Concentrating on things which I can learn really helped me when I was tasked with a project I didn't know anything about, in a foreign land, doing the job I don't know. Why I have accepted it you might ask. Well, it was do or do not decision - so I decided to do it, even though all the impediments I will have to face alongside. It ended up really good for me, I learned a lot about the job, the project, even the country I was in, just because I concentrated on the learning part.

I'll finish off this rambling of mine with an African proverb - Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

Until next reading!


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