Someone once told me that every time you agree or decide to do anything you are saying no to something else. This made sense to me but it never really influenced my decision making until a recent incident brought it all closer to home. I had nicely drawn up my little budget with clear plans to get started on investments that would make a difference for my future and help me attain some goals. Later that day I went out with some friends and I came across some things I wanted but did not need. At that moment, I justified these purchases and because the budgeted items were not immediately urgent or pressing in my face it made sense. In retrospect when I was now trying to pay for the budgeted needs, I realised that without thinking about it, I had delayed the achievement of my important goals by choosing trivial things!! In so many ways just by choosing our wants and trivial issues we actually turn down or delay the important things in our lives. This made me wonder-when we make seemingly small choices, what bigger things are we saying no to?
You see, you always have a choice and every time you accept one choice you are automatically rejecting of the other. When faced with choices, our decisions are usually based on some sort of rational and reasoning especially supporting what is immediately preferable . Unfortunately most times we tend to pay attention to the most immediate feelings or wants as it may be. Say for example you need to study for an exam you are writing next week or work on a presentation that is due in four days. If you really do not feel like getting up to do it, you can come up with a justifiable excuse that your body needs the rest or you could do it the next day. The instant and seemingly reasonable circumstances do make sense but how often are we honest enough to ask what are the costs and tradeoffs? If you choose to do something else during that time, you are short changing your study time doing something that seems possibly harmless. You are wasting that time and it will cost you in the future. Waste a few more hours and the time you finally decide to study or do that report you are doing a half-baked job because you are now under pressure. Choosing trivial options will always cost you in strategic decisions as you compromise the time, resources and effort then left to the bigger issues.
Whenever we divert from plans of things that may not seem urgent, important or pleasant we are delaying our own destiny. If you are working on becoming a more punctual person, every time you hit the snooze button, you are becoming more late and delaying the building and reinforcement of the punctuality habit. Every time you spend money on something you did not budget for, you are taking money away from the critical things you need which just delays your meeting the financial goals. The critical decisions and choices in life tend to not seem urgent. Saving for your future is a need that may not have an urgent pressing on you because its benefits are enjoyed only later on in your life. Similarly developing good habits or traits may not seem too urgent because their benefits on your reputation and character are truly appreciated in the long run. In the pursuit of greatness however there is a great need to focus on the bigger picture and maintain that focus. If you are going to reach your full potential you need to prioritise the set goals and desired traits of the future and say no to immediate demands or wants
Great people know the importance of delayed gratification in building the characters and traits necessary for them to get to the highest potential. Choosing the seemingly more urgent and easy stuff is a very easy choice that does nothing to your self-discipline but will definitely come back to haunt you. The next time you have to choose watching tv over reading a motivational book, buying some shoes over an investment, hitting snooze or waking up to study, just remember in every choice you are always rejecting or delaying something which will most likely come back to haunt you. As you make your seemingly small choice daily, pause and ask yourself, what are you saying no to?