I often get asked by busy successful leaders what is the one tip that would help them feel better, more engaged, and productive in the things they love to do. Problem is busy people are busy for a reason. They are sought-after for their talent and time because they often make a substantial impact on committees and in school, community or religious organizations.
As you are planning the race to the end of 2012 and beginning to think about 2013, here is a small step you can take that will yield big results. Maybe even the right to weekends off for a while!
When invited to serve, attend, or participate in something outside of your work, first connect to your own care. Ask yourself if this is something you care deeply about, and are willing to commit to. Also be mindful of the trade-offs you will make in order to say “yes” to that commitment. Make sure you are willing and able to make those trade-offs.
“I am honored that you think highly enough of me to invite me for this level of responsibility, but unfortunately the timing in my work/life doesn’t permit me to commit at that level right now. However, here is what I am able to commit to.”
Most people find that a counter-offer made with generosity of spirit and with a firm commitment (and timetable) is not just appreciated. It is respected.
I have a colleague who feels resentful from time to time over the number of requests she receives to participate in meetings and events. By the time the weekend rolls around she hasn’t made a dent in her client work. She then feels pressure and frustration in having to work on weekends to catch up. Problem is she never will. She is giving herself away to people who aren’t paying for her time and talent, and then robbing herself of feeling gratitude for those people who are!
Giving of ourselves to the point of exhaustion, depletion, and resentment doesn’t serve anyone; not our colleagues, clients, family or friends. This is a pattern that most of us have been familiar with at some point in our lives. Recognize that you do have a choice. The moment you decide that you are going to say “yes” to yourself and honor your calling to serve others is the day when you will see the “to-do” list shrink, the weekend time grow and over-commitment become a thing of the past.
Now that’s something to aim for in 2013!