Committed, not Overcommitted.

Saying “yes” to everything only works when the opportunities are coming linearly or concurrently at a pace you can handle. But when you start saying yes to everything, all at once, then it’s only a matter of time before you break from stretching yourself too thin.

But what do you do if you are already overcommitted? How do you back down from the ledge?

There’s two options: little by little, or all at once.

The “all at once” option is the easiest, but potentially the most damaging. Because saying yes is a contract. It’s a firm handshake binding you to commit to what you agreed to. Backing out can bruise your reputation. But if you are burnt out and so overcommitted it’s starting to not only effect your happiness but your health, then dropping everything might be worth the damage. And if you are burnt out, you might not have a choice. Unless you want to stay a char broiled piece of leftover meat the rest of your life. Never say yes to something you don’t feel you should do. And if you have to back out then, back out, but do whatever is necessary to make amends and stick the landing.

The little by little is harder, because it requires you to followthrough with that you said yes to—even if you don’t want to. But in so doing, you show that you can be reliable and finish what you start. Day by day, you work your way towards a clear calendar. Of course, this only works if you stop saying yes to anything else. Continuously saying yes to more and more only keeps the overcommitted problem-train chugging along.

Committed gets you where you want to go; Overcommitted keeps you stuck in the mud.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1292

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3 thoughts on “Committed, not Overcommitted.

  1. Good stuff! Something that I’ve learned only in the past couple of years is to agree to commitments I’m interested in but only on a short term trial basis, that way the commitment automatically ends in say or month or so without me doing anything. I always have the option to renew the commitment, but this way if I’m overcommitted it will be a short term problem because my commitments are preset to expire from the outset.

    1. Hey Ben – thanks for reading! “Trial runs” are smart. I’ve seen something like this with testing a potential employee for a month (and paying them) before hiring them. How do you go about deciding whether or not something is worth a trial run? And would you mind giving an example of what kind of commits you’ve seen success with? (Habits? Jobs?)

      1. So I have large, long term commitments like my job, my marriage, being a parent, paying the mortgage, maintaining the house and the cars. That doesn’t leave a significant margin of discretionary time. So right now, EVERY commitment outside of the ones I listed above need an automatic end date. Examples are freelance projects, hobby projects, small groups, regular friend/community meetups, and anything else. I notify the others involved of the expiration date at the outset and update them as it comes near. Of course there is always the opportunity to renew. I try not to let any expiration date be further than 3 months out and I prefer 1 month. I do have one 9 month commitment going right now, but I try to keep that to a minimum.

        For my job I’ve committed to myself to do a minimum of 3 years, but if it were coming due now (I’m two years in) I would renew for a longer time period.

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