When to say “Yes” and when to say “No”
When I was starting my undergraduate studies back in Hong Kong, I tried to get involved in everything.
For example, I attempted to read everything that looked interesting and signed up for way too many seminars which I could neither attend nor understand. I spent too much time and energy running here and there without achieving much.
I said “yes” to so many options, but they did not bring much new insight, rather exhaustion and fatigue.
Knowing this past experience, I completely changed my strategy for my first year of study in the UK. I often said “no” to invitations and hardly engaged in anyone or any events outside of my studies. I rarely left my room if it was not a school day. It turned out to be a miserable experience because I missed out on a lot of meaningful occasions when I could have learnt about the people and the culture of the UK. The sole focus on studying made me feel lonesome and out of things.
At this relatively early stage of the university year, I am striving for balance. I am trying to master the art of saying “yes” / “no”. I derived three guiding principles to aid my decision-making which may possibly be helpful for you as well.
- Firstly, can I be true to my commitment? I force myself to count the costs before I can actually say “yes” to a commitment.
- Secondly, will my “yes” be a genuine help for others? Too often when we say a quick “no” just because we are too busy or worried about being used, we probably forget the fact that somebody else is in need.
- Finally, can I learn anything out of this experience? You may argue that we can learn anything from all experiences. But if we are honest, our time could only afford certain experiences.
Let’s try and master our “yes” / “no” response and manage our lives wisely.