Don’t you hate it when people demand too much of you? When they pressure you to deliver more than you ever could? When they expect more from you than you could possibly do, even if you had 36 hour days and 9-day weeks? Who do they think they are?
It’s people like that who make you feel guilty isn’t it? They make you feel frustrated and anxious, stressed out and on edge.
They make you feel resentful eventually, bitter that you’re being forced to do what they want instead of what you want—and it’s all their fault!
Ok. That may be how we feel sometimes, but it’s not exactly true.
I’ve been writing posts lately about the importance of saying NO (I’m calling it The NO Initiative), because it directly affects the quality of the story we live.
The truth is that when we have too much to do, it’s because we have chosen to do too much.
We Choose to Be Too Busy
A little more than a decade or so ago, I was in a busy season of life.
I was teaching a full course load of high school classes. I was running the entire athletic department for a school that was growing quickly with almost 20 different sports teams.
I was overseeing the student body, basically the one charged with dealing with all student-related stuff and discipline issues.
Oh, and we had four kids and two more on the way. (Yes, my wife IS a saint.)
In the midst of all of that, I decided to head back to school to earn my Masters in Business Administration (MBA). During which time, the fifth and sixth children showed up.
It was busy, to be sure. Sometimes I became discouraged, overwhelmed, and came home with a “why are they doing this to me” attitude.
But no one was doing anything to me. I had chosen to take on every single responsibility.
Sometimes the frustration was because I need to learn something. Sometimes it was because I should have said NO but didn’t.
Sometimes it was because I lacked the clarity to focus on the essentials and allowed non-essentials to fill my schedule.
So every parent that drove me crazy complaining about an issue with their children–I chose to deal with that.
Every sports team that had an issue with facilities that I had to iron out—I asked to do that.
Every student who need help understanding why Odysseus did what he did—I agreed to help him or her understand.
And all the kids at home? Yep, I had a role to play in that, as well.
The point is that I was super-busy because I chose to be super busy. There was no one to blame for that frustrating season but myself.
All those “bad” people “forcing” me to do things were simply doing what I had given them permission to do.
4 Questions to Clarify Your Responsibility
Zig Ziglar famously asked four questions that I’ll revise only slightly to fit this discussion.
I challenge you to ask them to yourself right now—and answer honestly:
- Do you believe there is something specific you can do in the next three weeks to make yourself feel more overcommitted?
- Do you believe there is something specific you can do in the next three weeks to make yourself feel less overcommitted?
- Do you believe the choice to do or not do that specific thing is yours?
- Do you believe that every choice has an end result?
If I answer YES to these 4 questions, as I think we all must do, then a simple but empowering truth becomes clear.
There is something I can specifically do right now that will make me feel either more or less overcommitted–and the choice is all mine.
“You cannot escape responsibility for tomorrow by evading it today.” –Abraham Lincoln
We all need the humility to realize we cannot do it all and the courage to say NO, even when we would prefer to say YES.
When we acknowledge our responsibility, we empower ourselves to change.
What will you choose to do today to take responsibility for being over committed and spread too thin?
Your story is being written either by you or for you.
You can choose today which it will be.
Photo credit: Monoar