Think Before You Say “Yes”

Last August I talked about the Cost of War and how taking it into consideration beforehand improves our understanding and choices. In this post I would like to show how those deliberations help in our day to day decisions as well.

When someone asks you to do something — anything — think before you say, “Yes”. As adults our primary responsibility is to take care of ourselves first. That involves providing the basic inputs required to survive. It also includes fulfilling any commitments and obligations that we have taken on including the tasks involved in every day living. Either we perform the required tasks ourselves, provide goods and services to others in exchange for the ones they provide us, or earn the income necessary to purchase them.

Regardless of how we get those goods and services, what we use up is our own time, energy, resources and funds. Let’s call it our TERF. Since there are only twenty four hours in a day, the amount of TERF each of us has available is limited. Survival requires that certain things be done first including making sure we have enough of the basic inputs — clean air, fresh water, food, rest, clothing and shelter. Providing for them is our primary priority. That always requires a certain amount of our TERF. Another priority is allocating the TERF required to fulfill any commitments and obligations we have taken on. They include those involving our spouses or partners, having and raising children, taking care of sick or aging parents, friends or animals, etc. Here again, each of them requires more of our limited TERF.

Let’s call the amount left over, discretionary time, energy, resources and funds — our discretionary TERF. It is the TERF that is available to do other things, including the things you really would like to do. Perhaps that is creating your art, making music, writing a novel or poem, inventing a new gadget, developing a new App, promoting a cause or just walking in the woods. It is the time spent following your passion, whatever it is. And sometimes it includes doing what others ask of you.

Before you say “Yes” is important to realize that some of your discretionary TERF will be used up in the process. That makes it important to figure out how much TERF will be involved, and what else you would be able to do with the the same amount of it. After thinking about it, say “yes” only when doing what others ask you to do will make you better off than if you spent that same amount of discretionary TERF on other things. Make sure that it is what you really want to do with your limited discretionary TERF. When you say yes without taking that into consideration, what you lose is the foregone opportunity.

It is important to remember that every action that you take effects others and the world around you. That action may make someone worse off or cause pain, harm, injury or even death. If it does, the action may well provoke a retaliatory response. That, in turn, will require more of your TERF. Just imagine if a conflict escalates into a lawsuit, having to hire attorneys and all that! Failure to attempt to understand the consequences and costs of one’s actions beforehand, does not protect you from bearing the consequences and costs once you have taken the action. The essence of this approach is an attempt to understand the likely outcomes, before engaging in any activity or taking any action. Hopefully it will help ensure a more favorable result.


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