I’ve got a big change coming with my work. For the first time ever in my life, I’m going to be working on a part-time basis, at least for the next 6 – 12 months. Maybe longer. I’m extremely grateful for this option and am also a bit scared about the change. I will write more about all this another day (probably many days), because it’s worth exploring more, but what I wanted to call out today is what this experience has taught me about assumptions.
All assumptions are actually decisions.
I was catching my coach up on the “going part-time news” and, over the course of our chat, kind of alluded to the fact that this might mean we won’t have much to talk about. After all, if I’m only part-time I probably won’t have much opportunity to make any “big impacts”, experiment try things out, etc now that I’m shifting to part-time.
“That seems like a pretty big assumption,” she said. “What are you really saying no to?”
It would seem perfectly rational to explain that since I had fewer hours to work I would have less opportunity for impact. No one (except my coach) would challenge me on that. If I took on any sort of challenge, after all, I might end up working more than part-time, or I might end up failing and disappointing those depending on me because I just didn’t have enough hours to put into it.
I actually had already made up my mind that this was the way it would have to be. I’ll do the Dad thing, and work will just be a side-gig with me doing the basics, but why?
Turns out my assumption was actually an unconscious decision to say no, not to interesting and challenging work, but no to the fear that I might not be able to cope with my new constraints.
It seems a bit ridiculous in retrospect. What is the worst that could happen if I take on challenging work regardless of being part-time? They say that work takes as long as you give it. What if I actually do…as good or better?
In many cases, assumptions are useful, and saying no might be the smart choice.
But this experience taught me that if I don’t examine those assumptions I’m making decisions without realizing it.