Knowing When To Say "Yes" (and "No")

I feel a little strange about this post. Well, "strange" is unclear. I'm a little conflicted; but here are my thoughts nonetheless.

Normally I'm an advocate of "not biting off more than you can chew." For those who struggle with idioms, that means "don't put too much on your plate." 

Wait, no. How can I say this more clearly?

Don't sign up for so many responsibilities and activities that you end up bailing on your assignments because you miscalculated what you were capable of or what you had time for.

There, does that clear things up?

Probably not, but let's go with it.

As an advocate of the "marathon pace" in life, I often advise people (after they ask my advice, because giving unsolicited advice is just annoying) to think before they say yes to every invitation to go here and/or do this or that.

The reason I support this so much is that often capable, hard-working, well-meaning people find themselves in a position where they are the "only one" that can (or will) do the work or show up for the activity. This hard-working minority ends up carrying 90% of the workload--whether it's in the professional world, the volunteer world, or in a dorm room.

The reason I'm conflicted is that this post is going to be about the exact opposite thing:

Don't pass up good opportunities.

So this is where good writers insert well-contrived expressions to motivate and excite people into "getting busy," hustling, and "being intentional."

I'm not a good writer. I'm more like a person who tinkers with words, in the same way you can't call me a mechanic in regards to my endeavors with motor vehicles.

How does one balance the two extremes of saying yes to everything (overzealous) and saying no to everything (lazy and/or afraid)?

That's a personal question; but for me it's a lot like shopping. I'm very picky, and I shop slowly (typically) because impulse purchases are often regretful. I like to know what I want ahead of time and put some thought into it. But when I find what I want for the price I want, I pull the trigger. (No, I am not describing an armed robbery.)

So shop for your "Yes" activities. Know what you would like to do and what would improve your life. For the rest of the offers, politely say "No."

The stimulus for this post comes from the last couple months of my life. I have had several offers, and most of them I have said yes to--some by choice and others by necessity. It's not often that I say "Yes" to so many things consecutively; but here I am writing about it.

#1 Sunday school class

I love teaching; but since we moved to Tennessee, I haven't taught anything. At least not until August 2014 when our pastor asked me to teach a youth Sunday school class. Since it was something I already was hoping to do, I said yes.

#2 Biblical worldview class

Once again, my pastor asked me if I'd like to teach a short 12-week "course" on the Biblical worldview as it pertains to the origin of life and the history of planet Earth.

This is a topic that has always fascinated me, and I am always excited to learn more and share what I learn. So when the opportunity arose, I said yes.

#3 More responsibilities at work

Lately my immediate supervisor has included me in several "extra" responsibilities at work to prepare me for the possibility of a higher position later on. I could have easily shied away, but I am motivated to do and learn more so I can become more valuable to my employer. This means some weekend work and some later hours, but I said yes because I believe it's a good decision for my future and the future of my family. (Kids are expensive!)

#4 Online professorship

Not long ago I was approached on LinkedIn by a recruiter for an online learning institution. They were looking for someone to teach some science courses online. I bit.

I have never taken an online course in my life, much less taught one; but it is something I've wanted to do for some time. I enjoy teaching, but I don't have enough spare time to be adjunct faculty at a "brick and mortar" college.

Online teaching is perfect, and God brought along the opportunity. When good doors open, run through them.

I am currently taking an online course to learn how to teach online courses. If that's not ironic, I'm not sure what is! (I know it's not technically ironic.)

#5 Write a blog

Well, this is slightly less recent. I started this blog in November 2013 because it was an opportunity. The internet is a giant, worldwide opportunity! (How that's for dramatic?)

Writing a blog costs time and energy, but no money. This is perfect for me, because at the end of the day there are times when my mind won't shut up. So I gave it a voice. And you are hearing it now.

Sure, I could quit doing it because I'm busy. I could stop putting my half-baked ideas out there because of the possibility they'll be ignored, laughed at, mocked, despised, or even hated. But there's also the possibility that people will like it and/or benefit from it.


Don't be a "easy yes" because you feel guilty or obligated to do everything. You will burn out and get frustrated.

But don't be a "definite no" because you are lazy or scared of trying something new, different, or intimidating. You will regret missed opportunities.

Good luck shopping!

If you have advice from your decision making, please share it in the 'Comments' section. Thanks!

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1 comment:

  1. You are a busy young man! I got exhausted just reading about all your commitments! (When do you sleep?)