Perhaps, like me, you suffer from the inability to say the word no. As soon as I hear “You are so good at…” or “We really need you…,” I am captured in the web of overcommitment and the stress that often accompanies it.
As I analyzed the various commitments, projects, and requests that I have said yes to over the past few years, an interesting pattern emerged. Nearly every one of these activities fed my need to add value to the world through either helping others or using my personal strengths as a coach.
However, another pattern became quite evident: one commitment cost me a significant amount of time and money; another came with time demands that challenged my work calendar; and still another involved extreme neediness and life challenges on the part of two close friends.
At some juncture in each of these examples, there was a moment when I realized the incredible outpouring of my time, research, money, and stress, and I cried out loud: “What have I done?”
Fast forward to the present. I persevered through all of those challenges and ultimately recognized that I must perform some type of triage on every request made of me in my non-professional life. How about you? Have you ever found yourself overcommitted and then wondered how you got yourself in the predicament in the first place? If you’re like me, you have—so I suggest you give yourself the Will this bring me joy? test. There are four steps:
- When a request for a commitment arrives, take 24 hours to think about the ramifications on you, your schedule, your finances, and your well-being.
- Ask yourself: Will this commitment bring me joy or add stress? Will it involve more time, money, or goodwill than I am ready to give?
- Trust your instincts and be true to yourself. Answer wisely.
- Keep an index card visible that reads Will this bring me joy? When in doubt, answer the question.
When I look back on the outcome of the experiences I mentioned above, something powerful occurs. I feel overwhelming joy. Joy that comes from having fulfilled my purpose. Joy that comes from knowing new learning will take place because of content that I created. Joy that comes from having witnessed true joyfulness in a friend as she accomplished her quest.
Sometimes, taking on a commitment is a leap of faith. You can complete your due diligence by instituting the Will this bring me joy? test and saying yes wholeheartedly. Sometimes joy shows up in the darnedest places. Asking Will this bring me joy? will remind us to always seek it out.
About the Author
Patricia Sauer is a coaching solutions partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world.
Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.