REFLECTION & ACTION: Will you? Would you? Can you? Could you? On those short questions hang the hooks of overcommitment. Will you take on this project? Would you look after the kids for the weekend? Could you chair this committee?
The trap lies in believing there’s only a yes or no answer to each question.
Say “yes” and when you realize you don’t have time for the task or that it’s not a fit with your interests or priorities, you reward yourself with resentment. Say “no” and when you suffer second thoughts about the wisdom of your decision or its possible effect on your relationships or future, you reward yourself with guilt.
People often overlook the possibility of middle ground. Maybe you would feel comfortable taking on the project if you could shift other deadlines. Maybe you would take the kids on Friday or Saturday night but not for the whole weekend. Maybe you won’t chair the committee, but you would help recruit someone who will.
The search for middle ground starts with a time out. By stepping back from the request, thinking about the impact, looking at priorities and schedules, you may be able to find one option or several that aren’t based on guilt or resentment. Look for commitments you can make with a willing heart. Find ways you can help and still be “sustainably” productive over the long haul.
Middle ground runs wide and deep. It’s rich with possibilities for reasonable loads and healthy relationships.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Resentment is an extremely bitter diet, and eventually poisonous. I have no desire to make my own toxins.” – Neil Kinnock
“The year I was president of two organizations was frustrating. Both held their monthly board meetings on the same Tuesday-one from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. and the other starting at 7:00 p.m. When my traveling husband was in town, the tight schedule was not too much of a problem. However one day when my husband couldn’t be home, I had to arrange for one babysitter to pick up my daughter from another babysitter, take her home, and stay with her until I could get home about 10:00 p.m. At that point, I found the backbone to say ‘no’ to some of the requests that came my way.” – Debby C.
“When I’m asked for something that requires my time, I simply say, ‘I want to think about it. I’ll get back to you.’ This gives me time to recover from the shock of another request and see if it fits in my calendar. I wear the idea awhile, see what it feels like, see which way I lean, and make a decision. When I say ‘yes,’ I really mean it!” – Denise N.