Less than a month after swearing to simplify in 2014, I’ve already agreed to take on a new long-term extracurricular project.
Yes. I know. But wait just one minute before you unleash the judgment on me.
At the turn of the new year, you see all sorts of recommendations float through cyberspace on how to live your life better.
One such recommendation, which I’ve seen a few places but will not link to because these are bloggers I otherwise respect, is the suggestion to say “Yes” more … or in some cases, to always say yes. Because opportunities only come once.
Meanwhile, other sites, wellness, balance and minimalist-type sites, encourage you to say “No.” Because the last thing you need in your life is one more distraction sucking your energy and taking away from your personal priorities.
These are both ridiculous ways to live.
Guys, there’s a better way. It’s called knowing yourself.
I’ve learned through trial and error to these two approaches where my boundaries and priorities are. And this particular opportunity really hit my sweet spot for four reasons:
1. Good company. I know the people involved, and they are good, intelligent people who I enjoy being around, challenge me in good ways, and support me.
2. Work I enjoy. The opportunity I was asked to take on allows me to do exactly the kind of work I love most. And even better, doing this work with this group could help me gain other professional opportunities in this line of work.
3. Contributing to my community. The organization I will be helping is a good cause that I believe in, right in my local community. The one thing I was not satisfied with about my 2014 changes was that they were all focused on me. I believe in giving back, but I didn’t know how to do it in a manageable way. This opportunity gave me a way to do that.
4. Clear boundaries. I expressed my limits on what I could offer up front, and those boundaries were immediately respected, with no push back. This is a big deal. The general practice among organizations I’ve worked with in the past is something I call volunteer vampirism, a practice in which the same pool of givers are tapped again and again to do even more because they have a history and are readily available. I don’t do this anymore, and when organizations start treating me this way, I tend to opt out. But I’m not getting that vibe for this project.
When it comes to making new commitments, my advice is to be selective. There’s millions of different kinds of opportunities out there. But you are a unique and limited resource. Spend your time and energy thoughtfully for the best reward for your efforts.