Tuesday, 08 June, 2004

Overcommitted?

I've heard it said that a man only has time to be good at three things at a time.  For most of us two of those slots are filled by work and family, leaving time enough to do one thing well.  Or time enough to seriously study one thing at a time.  If you try to do much more, other things suffer.  Some people sacrifice their health to fit something else in, either by becoming sedentary or by losing sleep.  Others get a mindless job that takes no effort, leaving their energies for other purposes.  Still others ignore their families in order to leave more time for "other things."  I heard this some years ago and didn't give it much thought until recently when I started trying to fit something else into my schedule.  It doesn't work.  The only solution is to reduce commitments.  For me, that means putting aside for a while some things that I'd been hoping to get to this year.

It's surprising how many people get themselves into this kind of bind and then can't find a way out.  Over commitment is a major source of stress and depression.  People over commit, stress when they can't meet their commitments, and then just shut down:  unable to do anything because they're worried about everything.  They're afraid to back out of any commitments even when they realize that it's their only workable solution.  Yes, it's painful to back out, and you'll probably disappoint some people.  But do it anyway.  Your friends might be disappointed if you say "I can't do this anymore."  But they'll stop being your friends if you string them along forever.