Accountable People Don’t Overcommit

Are you crazy busy? Do you have so much on your plate you don’t know where to start? Does what you need to get done overwhelm you to the point that you avoid everything and instead get a bowl of popcorn and go watch a movie or just play a game on your phone?

A commitment involves more then just time. It involves space in your mind. Everything you commit to and is left undone occupies a place in your mind. Incomplete commitments create stress. That stress may lead you to feel rushed to finish something and then it is not done in excellence.

Knowing what to commit to positions you to achieve at a level of excellence because there is alignment between what you value and the challenge at hand. A person will always work harder and do better work when they are passionate about the project, cause or outcome.

Some people always live up to their commitments and deliver great work when promised and others don’t. If some people can do it all people can.

Sometimes people overcommit because they are out of balance in their life; they lack clarity in what it is that they say they believe. If you have clarity in what you believe you will be more effective managing what you do and the commitments you make. Your beliefs will drive what you pursue, the projects you take on and the activities you engage in.

If what you believe is clear, you focus on it and you prioritize it some really great things start to happen. Your commitments become aligned with that which you believe. As an individual you start recognizing the things you are called and moved to do as opposed to the things people want you to do.

Think about an eye exam where the doctor asks you to look through the Phoroptor (yep, that’s what that machine is called) and tell them which choice is clearer. You have a fuzzy view and a clearer view. You continue to select and eliminate the fuzzy alternatives until it is crystal clear and then it’s like, “wow, this is amazing.” It is the same with creating clarity in what you want to do, feel moved to do and become willing to do.

Someone may ask you to serve on a particular Board of Directors of an organization. You really desire and want to but maybe that organization, while important, isn’t at the top of what you really want to support. The reality is, you don’t have the mental time to do it and it will take away from your work with organizations you are more passionate about.

Of course some people just don’t know how to say “no”. Maybe they are guilt driven. Maybe they unjustly feel like they are going to let people down. Maybe they are people pleasers. Or, maybe they just don’t realize that saying yes to everything means you are saying no to something else.

We need to learn how to say no. We need to realize that no is our friend. Saying no to one thing means you can say yes to something that aligns with what you believe and what is important to you. We tend to overcommit when we lack focus on what is really important to us and we do not adequately prioritize those important issues.

If keeping your commitments is important then you will pay attention to the commitments that you make. That doesn’t mean you won’t make a mistake. It doesn’t mean you won’t forget to put something on your calendar and then double book the time. When you do make a mistake and overcommit how will you react? Do you fail to keep a commitment or do you pay with a price either in time, money or personal sacrifice in order to keep all of your commitments?

The truly accountable person will always put the priority on not overcommitting and keeping all of their commitments to the people they made them to. When you know when to say no and when to say yes, you won’t overcommit and you will be accountable to the people around you.


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