People will tell us that we should be on the lookout for opportunities to knock at our door and to be ready to embrace them. Otherwise, we might miss out on something really important. But, what about the times when opportunities may have the wrong address and knock on our door by mistake? Not every opportunity is worthwhile or worth pursuing - it may not be for us at all. Some will come with a hefty postage due bill.
Sometimes we don't know about the extent or promise of an opportunity at the outset. Nevertheless, there are little clues or signals that suggest the opportunity isn't as good for us as it might seem initially.
Say we get invited to lunch and we accept because we think it might lead to something. We have never been invited to lunch by this person before or it's been a while since it's happened. We figure that there must be a good reason that the offer came at this time (we were hoping or praying for it and figure this might lead to something important), so we go - if just because we are curious and think that there really could be something to this.
It might sound very good at first - perhaps too good. It might sound interesting but suggest that it will take more work to get it off the ground or accomplish it than we are prepared to give right now. We might determine that this was just lunch and that's all it was ever meant to be.
Someone might call for us to do a proposal for them on a renovation. It sounds like a lucrative opportunity but it's outside our business model. Against our instinct that this isn't really something we should be pursuing even though the scope suggests that there could be good money involved, we take a couple of days to prepare a detailed proposal but then lose the job because we were never really a serious contender for the job in the first place. Our initial feelings were correct. We were so excited to be considered that we dropped our guard and didn't ask enough questions up front before starting to walk down that path. Then we have to turn around and try to make up the ground that we lost chasing after this unnecessary diversion.
The point is this. Not everything that looks or sounds attractive is worth pursuing. We have to evaluate the time it will take, the financial return, how well we might like to do it, and what we might be giving up in terms of other more appropriate business to pursue that particular opportunity.
Even exploring an opportunity may take more time than we really were prepared to give it at the time It showed up. Being a little more discerning in how we open the door for opportunities when they knock will save us from devoting time and energy to considering projects that really are outside our areas of expertise or comfort level.
We have the power to sat "no" while still being open a good opportunity when we feel that one is standing at our door - let's not be afraid to use it when an opportunity is not something that can help us.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.