The Second Third, Week 13 (Belated): Overcommit

Blogger’s Note: The whole idea behind these “Second Third” posts can be found here.

So I should technically be writing Week 14 of this series, which proved to be far more interesting in my head than it appears on screen. This is last week’s entry — exactly a week late and, ironically enough, about the tendency I have to overcommit myself.

Several natural but unfortunate tendencies contribute to my inclination to promise more than I can deliver:

  • First, I tend toward optimism: I can do it, things will work out, stars will align, etc.
  • Second, I’m horrible at estimating the time a thing will take.
  • Third, I tend to expand into the space I’m given, leaving no room for error or delay.
  • Fourth, I like what I like, and when I like it, I want to be involved. I say yes more than I ought, and don’t like to back down. Enthusiasm + pride + a touch of the martyr = unrealistic deadlines and self-imposed misery.
  • Fifth, I’m no manager. I like to do more than to delegate and direct, and filling someone in on a project (and then relinquishing control) nearly always seems waaaaay more difficult and time-consuming that just doing it myself.

Multiply these tendencies across multiple projects and decisions per day, and you can see A) why I’m a week late on this post and have blogged almost nothing besides these “weekly” Second Third posts since I promised to do them; B) why, when I look more than a few hours ahead on any given day, I feel nauseous; and C) why I’ve yet to teach my children any number of things I already knew how to do when I was their age.

This cannot stand. No is such a clear and easy word; I must pronounce it more frequently. I can’t blow my Second Third on ill-considered obligations I take on myself.

3 thoughts on “The Second Third, Week 13 (Belated): Overcommit

  1. On the delegation thing, if you want to see how big of a hole there would be left there if you weren't there, just put your hand in a bucket of water and then pull it out. The hole left in the water is about the same as the hole left would be if you weren't there.

    Not to say that you wouldn't or won't make a difference while you are there or that things will be done as well as if you were not in total control, but then we really are never in total control, are we? Took me years to fight that and I still do, but I am getting better.


  2. I hear you, Robert — and I'm coming around literally as we speak — but it's tough, mostly because the things I undertake are genuinely things I want to do! I also want more time in a day and more days in a week AND more sleep AND…

    (I want I want I want…what a whiner!) 😛


  3. Wow. I can relate to this reflection! I was feeling pretty good about #5 until I read the comment about the bucket of water!
    It's good to know that we are all a work in progress…


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