2010 was not a very good year for me. Although that was the year that I had accomplished so much in life, it was also the time that I had lost so much. At the age of twenty, I had the opportunity of successfully starting a business, winning a prestigious award as one of the best Marketers of the country and all this after dropping out of college.
But that same year, I had blown many opportunities as well. Many friendships were ruined, clientele disappointed and partnerships gone stale. I also lost my physical health after having my lungs collapse due to exhaustion and frankly my mental health as my sanity was jeopardized.
It’s no accident that my best year also was my worst. There was a lot of opportunity yes, but I had blown most of them. Maybe you have found yourself in the same scenario or maybe you’re in it now- you just keep losing opportunities you jump into and you probably don’t know why either. Why do we keep losing opportunities and more importantly how do we stop losing them?
The secret that I have learned and the secret I want to share to you today is actually the simplest it can ever get. Are you ready? Here it goes:
Stop saying “yes” to every opportunity you get.
That’s right. The number one reason why people lose so many opportunities is because we commit to too many of them. This comes primarily from the fear that we will never get the same opportunity or one of the same magnitude. But that’s just not true.
We’ve probably heard it said many times that “We only have one shot.” One shot to win it all. One shot to get the gold. One shot to become successful. But reality tells us that we don’t just have one shot. There will never come a time that we will run out of opportunities. There will always be another chance, another client, another project, another idea, another job offer.
We’ve probably heard it said many times that “We only have one shot.” One shot to win it all. One shot to get the gold. One shot to become successful. But reality tells us that we don’t just have one shot.
The key to success in maximizing opportunities does not lie in our ability to answer to every single one of them, but in knowing which ones to take and which ones to say no to. The secret is simple no doubt, but sometimes it’s a lot easier said than done.
And to be honest, I’m really preaching to myself here. I came across this post I had written only two years ago about having a million things to do even when we’re really accomplishing nothing except burning ourselves out. Being busy does not always mean being productive.
But I’m learning and so can you if you’re willing to admit that you have a hard time saying “no” just like any normal human being would. Here are three steps to knowing which opportunities to say “yes” to and which ones to decline.
1. Know why you do what you do
Every person who has ever become an expert at catching the right opportunities has one thing in common: They know their purpose. When we know why we do what we do, we will know what to do and what not to do. When we don’t we’ll just be blindly walking into every door and sadly be wasting too much time and resources.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” We cannot afford to not know why we do what we do. The best place to start in finding your purpose is knowing your origin. We all come from one God who has a wonderful “why” just waiting for you to accept it.
As soon as we know our purposes, we can start taking note of all opportunities and weighing whether they contribute to the bigger picture. I encourage you to write them down and to carefully weigh them with the right questions. I’d like to give you a free worksheet that will help you visually illustrate every opportunity we get and weigh it with our purpose.
2. Commit to why you do what you do
Success rarely comes overnight. Most of the time, it is a result of doing the same things repetitively for long periods of time. That’s how exercise works- we do the same exercises over and over (while increasing the load and difficulty at different points). That’s how we grow in a romantic relationships- we communicate and spend time over and over.
Knowing why you do leads to saying “yes” to the right opportunities and you will have to say “yes” to those opportunities multiple times before you see results.
3. Stick to why you do what you do
Here comes the hard part: Saying “no.” We don’t like saying “no.” We would rather please people and sometimes even impress them. But what we don’t realize is that the more we say “yes” to the wrong opportunities, the more we unknowingly say “no” to the wrong ones, maybe not audibly but our actions will show it.
We are all finite beings with finite resources and we need to steward them right to make the most of these precious and limited resources that God has given to us. Our time, money, skills and attention all have their limits and we need to channel them into the right things- the things that we know why we should do.
Saying “no” will never be easy, but the good news is that the guilt does diminish over time as we grow more into it. The more “nos” we give, the more we actually say “yes” to the opportunities that matter most. If everything matters, then nothin does. We need to choose what matters most.
In case you missed it, here’s a worksheet that will help you track and process every opportunity you get. Did I mention it’s for free?