I have realized something about myself lately. I have a tendency to “go all in” when I commit to something. When I say yes to a commitment, I want to do that to the best of my ability, whether it’s a project at work, a committee at church, or a decision to run a marathon.
You might be saying that’s a great quality to have, and you’d be right, except…
Except that what I’m noticing is that because I go all in for everything I’m doing, I am completely overwhelmed and cannot give 100% to anything. In other words, everything I’m doing has become a MIA (most important activity). And I’ve done it to myself. Do you do that too?
I caught myself this week stressing over a huge mailing at work, and then I realized that it does not have to be completely printed out before I can have people start helping me fold and stuff. And if it doesn’t get out this week, the first of next week is acceptable.
One other form of over-commitment is my level engagement in several of my online communities. I need to remember that it’s not necessary to comment on every thread of a conversation or read every comment, especially when the other participants are very talky!
It’s time to scale back on some things, set some priorities, and gain back a feeling of control. Here are some things I’m going to do:
- Pick top priorities – I am active in so many things, from work, church, writing and running, I must set priorities for my MIA’s (most important activities) and designate which ones get my full focus. I can still be involved in things, but need to cut myself some slack so that I’m not overextending myself. It’s ok to be involved in an activity, but not attend every meeting, or to set reasonable timetables for a project that give time for other things.
- Set expectations up front – for those activities not ranked at the top of my MIA list, I will set boundaries for myself and any others involved as to time devoted and amount of focus. I must give myself permission to be involved but not “all in” for every area of interest. Boundaries also include timeframes for online engagement – I will set myself reminders since time online can bleed into other activities.
- Remember perfect isn’t reality – I have perfectionist tendencies, and I must remember that sometimes “good enough” is ok. Waiting until something is perfect means it won’t ever be finished. Better to “ship” (as author Seth Godin would say) something that’s pretty good than to be paralyzed waiting for flawless.
- Prioritize myself – I need to make sure I am listed in those MIA’s! I make so many commitments to other people, that there’s no time left for me. Taking care of myself, whether that’s exercise, reading/learning or rest, must be part of this equation.
- Learn “not now” – I do not have to say yes to everything I’m asked to do. But I struggle with that word “no.” I will work on saying, “not now” instead. That means that I am interested in the new activity but cannot manage it at present. When something falls off the MIA list, then I can add something new.
By giving myself permission to prioritize activities and say “not now” to some, I gain the freedom to go all in on the MIA’s. Ahhh, feels better already.
How do you keep from over-committing?