We are all presented with new opportunities every day. Choosing which of those opportunities to say yes to can sometimes be a challenging task. That said, saying no to things that come along is an essential part of being successful. We can’t all do everything.
This week Inc posted some advice from Wired founder Kevin Kelly on when to say no, affectionately called “the immediacy filter.”
“One of the most useful bits of advice I ever got came from the writer Anne Herbert, who said that whenever she got an invitation to do something months away or even a week away, she asked herself whether she would accept the gig/meeting/task if it was tomorrow. The answer was often no. I use that immediacy trick all the time, and it has served me very well.”
The idea behind the trick is pretty simple: by in large we all value something that we can have right now rather than the same something coming a week or a month down the line. For instance, you’d probably rather have a chocolate chip cookie right now, rather than wait 2 weeks for me to hand one over.
Inversely, speaking at your friend’s community meeting next month might sound like a good opportunity, but if you think about it happening tomorrow you might realise that it would be something you’d dread doing instead.
While a lot of things might seem like a “good” idea in theory that you’d want to say yes to, if you wouldn’t be jazzed about doing the exact same thing tomorrow then you might be better off saying no.
Obviously, this can’t work for everything. There are good opportunities out there that aren’t exactly exciting ones. However, thinking through how you would feel about that opportunity if it was more immediate can help you put that opportunity into perspective and decide if it’s something you ultimately want to pursue.