Jami-Lei was reflecting on a couple of childhood stories and it got her thinking… How can we reduce the chance of missing great opportunities and instead say yes more?
When I was a young child, my grandma came to my house and asked if I’d like to go out on a picnic with her. I said no because my friend who lived next door was moving house and I thought that day would be my last time to play outdoors with him. After I said no, I changed my mind and asked my grandma to take me on a picnic instead, but she respected my first answer and said we could go some other time.
Another day, when I was still very young, my mother asked me if I wanted the bag of prawn crackers we’d received complimentary with our meal. I said no, then couldn’t understand why I’d said no… I really liked prawn crackers! I ran to my mum and asked her if I could change my mind but I was too late – the crackers had been thrown away.
We learn some of our most important lessons when we’re children and sometimes don’t realise until we reflect back once we’re older. The lesson I’ve learnt from looking back at these times was to fully consider an opportunity before giving an answer. The lost picnic and prawn crackers meant a lot to me at that age so felt like a great loss. At my current age (19), the opportunities I’m offered that are of most value to me tend to be experiences or learnings. For example, the opportunity to experience something new or the opportunity to learn from someone wiser than me. Though I can’t remember a specific time I’ve regretted passing on one of these, I’m sure I have. If you’re anything like me, you probably have too. So how can we make sure we don’t pass up future opportunities and regret our decision later?
1. Ask for time to decide
Even if you think you know if you want to accept or decline, always ask when the person needs an answer by. For the person inviting you, they should see it as a sign you’re taking their offer seriously. For you, this will give you time to fully weigh up the pros and cons thus reducing the chance of passing on the opportunity in the spur of the moment.
2. Find out more – even if you think you don’t need to
It always helps to know more about what you’re signing up to – or declining – so there’s no harm in asking. You could find out an aspect of the opportunity that makes up your mind, if you haven’t already.
3. Challenge your comfort zone
One culprit of regret is an unwillingness to explore out of our comfort zone. If someone asked me to go to karaoke club and sing in front of a crowd, my immediate answer would be oh gosh, please no. Why? It’s completely out of my comfort zone! However, when I’m thinking about the opportunity later on, I might find some benefits in saying yes: finding a new hobby, increased confidence, socialising with new people etc. By actively challenging ourselves to step outside of our personal comfort zone, we’ll be more likely to say yes to new things.
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4. Actively seek out your own opportunities
It’s much easier to change your mind if the only commitment you’ve made is to yourself. This can be a positive or a negative, but in all cases try to challenge yourself in a healthy way when it comes to decisions. As I said earlier, the types of opportunities I want to say yes to involve new experiences or learnings. Now that I know this, I can actively seek out opportunities that fit my goals and challenge myself to say yes. You can do this through internet searches, letting people know what you’re looking for and asking for recommendations.
Hopefully these four tips will reduce your chance of missing out – even if it’s on a picnic or a prawn cracker!