When you are a young man, eager to take on the world and do as much as you can while you can, it’s easy to say YES to every opportunity. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Through the multitude of experiences, jobs and friendships you learn what does and doesn’t suit you. However, you will reach a point where all of your time is taken, and you will need to say NO. Is the opportunity worth it?
Opportunities will follow your reputation, and they don’t all take the same form. Some will be job offers, others hobbies, and some friendships. At the end of the day, they will all require a piece of your time.
Given infinite time, we could do infinite things. But with only 24 hours to each day, we must be discrete in how we choose to spend that time. Time limitations require learning to distinguish between what is essential and non-essential to your life; what things you can learn to live without and what actually is a priority.
This is not to say that all opportunities are bad by nature. Far from it, offers often are the kind of chances you pray for on a bad day when nothing seems to com your way. But as tempting as an opportunity might be, it can become nothing more than a distraction; taking away your time, attention and energy.
One of the defining characteristics that separates being a boy and a man is that a man must have vision, a defined goal of where he wants his life to be.
Here are three questions you should ask when deciding if an opportunity is something you should say NO to.
Does it move me closer to my goals?
When you have a goal, all else must be subjected to this question. There will be plenty of people to offer wastes of time and opportunities for folly, but you need to keep focused towards the end of the journey.
Some offers are tempting. They might bring money, status, and self gratification. But, unless an opportunity moves you towards your goal, there’s little purpose in pursuing it. If you want to become a Supreme Court justice, it doesn’t make much sense to intern in filmmaking. You should be pursuing an opportunity in law.
Does the opportunity make me a better person?
The next question in the hierarchy is moral. Even if an opportunity sits within your goals and career, you still have to determine if it is going to make you a better or worse person. Some work environments are toxic, draining any delight you had in your work.
Beyond work and career, was that movie you just watched something that’s going to make you better or worse than you were before? The content we consume influences our ideas and values, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Will it matter in a week?
Time is the great determinate. Whatever is important will last in its influence, frequently creating a greater reverence through endurance. Will this decision stand the scrutiny of even a week?
Even if timelessness is not your goal, if the importance of what you are doing can’t last a week, chances are slim that it was worth your time to begin with.
NO is the hardest sentence to hear, let alone say to another. Yet, it is also one of the most important you must say. Saying NO defines boundaries where we take stands and make decisions based not only on who we are, but who we want to become.