Setting Limits with Commitments

Across most of the country, summer, I mean spring has arrived.  After an unseasonably mild winter for many, like me, it seems as though summer is here bright and early.  While I don’t doubt that we may still get some spring rain-filled and cooler days, the heat and sun is prompting an early summeritus season.

This week has taken nothing short of velcro-ing myself to my desk to finish the tasks at hand.  Every time I am out driving, I see loads of happy people walking, jogging, biking, and taking a quick break in their day to catch some fresh air.  The smiling is infectious.

While smiling, exercising, and sheer utter joy may all be side effects of summeritus, so is canceling appointments and not following through on commitments.  As with most things, there is a good and bad side to summeritus.

All week, I have been hearing, ‘I am sorry, I cannot meet you now’ and ‘I apologize, I did not get to _______’….Come on!  I was not born yesterday.  I am looking out my window dreamily, too.  I am fantasizing about a long walk and frozen yogurt just like you.

This is all a result of over-committing, a lesson that I frequently learn the hard way.  Saying no to committees and meetings and lunch dates and additional tasks is hard to do.  This is especially the case when the person asking is a friend, treasured colleague, and/or someone we are dying to do business with in the future.

However, saying yes and not following through is even worse than over-committing, which is what always gets me in trouble.  I cannot do the no follow through thing, so I end up totally stressed.  I have had to teach myself the hard way to only commit to what I am going to see through until it is finished.

It is like the meeting that I fought to get to last winter in the middle of a snowstorm on a snow day from school.  I had a few back up plans in place in oder to make this happen because I was thoroughly committed.  Otherwise, canceling would have been way to easy.

Let’s use this early summeritus season to learn some lessons about committing:

  1. Do not commit to something if you do not see yourself being able to finish it even on the most magical weather day of the year.
  2. Set a hard limit for how many meetings, event, committees you want to do in a week, month.
  3. It is better to say No upfront rather than excuse yourself after you have already said Yes, so be certain that it is something really can commit to (rain, snow, or sunshine).
Happy Spring! For more on warm weather strategies, visit me here.
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