Doing anything well requires the ability to keep your plates clean and ready to accept a helping of what comes next, but by saying yes to every little thing that comes along, one will be less likely to be ready to handle the things that come up. ( David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, handled this topic well in his book, Ready for Anything). In looking over all that I have on my plate, I realize that I have to go back and say no to a few things, in order to be fair to my more pressing obligations.
I should state clearly that part of this stems from my eagerness to please, and my own weakness and aversion around saying no firmly.
It’s not easy to back out of things. The feeling of guilt for not completing a project is high. The sense that you’re letting someone down is a heavy lump in your belly. And yet, once one realizes that one isn’t going to be able to maintain the current pace, and that maybe one has bitten off too much, there’s really no other path (unless pure destruction is a path).
This morning, I sent notes to several people I respect and admire telling them that I had to back out of a commitment. I know that they will be disappointed. And yet, I think they’d hate it more if I put them in a rough spot closer to their deadline.
How to Assess Your Priorities
It should seem easy to know what’s important. Your family is important. Your job is important. But once you get beyond those two, how do you assess what you do for passion, for community, and for self-fulfillment? That’s where the confusion gets strongest. In my case, I did the following:
- Made a conscious commitment to the work I’m doing for salary.
- Made a conscious commitment to find more family time.
- Made a conscious commitment to the book I’m writing with Julien Smith.
- Made a conscious commitment to the community I started with Christopher S. Penn.
- Re-assessed which projects I was doing for business development.
- Re-assessed which projects I was doing for larger community.
- Re-assessed all the “can you just take a look at this?” projects I have in queue.
What I’ve decided in my assessment was this:
- My relationship with my company is going well and I want to try some more things with them. We’re working on new projects that I find challenging and interesting (which is what motivates me).
- PodCamp still has lots of evolution left in it, and I like working with Christopher S. Penn and Whitney Hoffman.
- Julien and I worked on the book while in Chicago, and now we’re REALLY excited about what we have.
- I will still evaluate speaking and private education opportunities for companies, but will have to better assess how that impacts my travel schedule and my family commitments.
- Where I’m stuck in the weeds is with all the “can you take a look at this” types of opportunities.
What Comes Next
It’s not like I’m closing shop or not interested in hearing from you. It’s not like I want to go into a cave and just work on my job, my book, and my family. But I will be a lot more clever in how I respond to the opportunities that come across my path. That’s where I should make a clear assessment and then move on with that decision in mind.
I’m still going to attend several events over the coming year. I’ll still be active in the social media scene. I’m still working on delivering quality information based on learning, execution, and extrapolation. I’m just going to work harder on being more fair to the primary commitments in my life.
I’m forever grateful for the support of the community at large, and for all the wonderful people who like me enough to share with me their projects and passionate work. Don’t go away. Stick around, and see who else speaks passionately on this site and on the Rockstars page. We’re moving towards a community of shared excellence, and I will do something in the coming months to facilitate that even further for people with professional interests in this space. (Stay tuned).
For now, thank you, and I wish you well on your projects.
Photo credit, Afroswede