The other day, I was at a networking group meeting, and one of the officers asked me if I’d like to take on an ambassadorship. “You’ve got a great background in recruiting, and we could really use your help to generate new membership,” she said. “You’re exactly what we need.”
And she was right. I was a perfect fit for the job. But I didn’t want it, and I told her so.
The next day, the President of the group called me personally, to ask again if I’d take the ambassadorship. I told him no, too. “Thanks for the opportunity,” I said, “But it’s my time, and I need to spend it on other things right now.” Don’t get me wrong – my networking group is important to me. I value the relationships I’ve built there, and we really could use a boost in membership. But is it more important than my time with my daughter and husband? Or my time with my clients? Or the time I spend exercising and taking care of myself? Because hours in one of these areas would have to be sacrificed in order to make time for the ambassadorship—or, I could allot a very small number of hours to the networking group, do a half-assed job, and leave everyone dissatisfied. So as much as I would have liked to say yes, I had to say no.
I can’t tell you how many years it’s taken me to learn this lesson.
If you’re the type of person who likes to say yes, you are probably also the type of person who wakes up in the middle of the night, thinking, “How the heck am I going to get all of this done?” “Why did I commit to doing this?” Time is one thing that we can’t make more of, and if yours is already scheduled to the hilt, you may be suffering from a serious case of over-performing.
Here’s a perfect example: One of my clients recently took a new job, in part because there was so much pressure at her old job. She took a pay cut in her new position, and was determined to find more balance. She’s a self-admitted perfectionist, and now, after only 90 days in the job, she’s coming close to the point of burnout. Turns out, she can’t do her best every day in the number of hours she’d scheduled for work, because she over committed to too many initiatives, so she’s pulling hours from home, family, and herself. The fact that she wants to do her best is commendable, but she’s back in the same position she was in at her last job, and working for a lot less money.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Call it self-competition. Once we’ve established ourselves as performers at a certain level, we believe we always need to perform at that level. Worse, we feel that we need to continually get better, and do more. We never want to be at a level with the bar—even if we set the bar ourselves. What’s more, we don’t take time to revel in our achievements. Once we finish a project, rather than sitting back and basking in the warm glow of pride, we immediately move on to the next thing, and the bar is raised yet again. I know this because I did it for years and now it’s easy for me to recognize in my clients.
If you’re in search of balance, ask yourself a few questions. Listen carefully to the answers that arise. You might even make this a journaling exercise. (If you automatically replied, “I don’t have time for that!” ask yourself what could possibly be a more important use of your time than YOU.)
- Why do you feel you need to say yes to every project that comes your way?
- What do you feel that you’ll lose or jeopardize by saying no?
- Who are you competing with?
- What goal is being served by your over-achievement? Is there a light at the end of this tunnel?
- Does having free time make you uncomfortable? Why?
Answer these five questions honestly, and the answers might change your life.
After offering my apologies to the president of my networking group, I hung up the phone with a smile. Any guilt I felt was immediately erased when I looked at the picture of my daughter I keep on my desk. She’s the biggest reason for balance in my life, and my best insurance against over-performing.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG OR WEBSITE? Please do, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Dawn Quesnel, CPCC, PCC, known as Coach DQ, is a professional coach, radio show host and workshop leader. Through the use of her B.R.I.D.G.E. programs she helps marketing, advertising, and creative entrepreneurs navigate career or business transition while maintaining a healthy career-life balance. Her core belief that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, consistently leads clients to uncover hidden resources and strengths. B.R.I.D.G.E. the gap and accelerate your career so you can love your life now! Visit www.CareerLifeBalance.net or http://www.coachdq.com today or for more information email me.
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