Overcommitted means uncommitted. I know that sounds weird – after-all, does it not mean exactly the opposite? So how can it be the same thing? Well, it can – and in a sense, it is.
Over commitment is like a slowly spreading disease. And most Solopreneurs fall victim to it from time to time. The trick is to see it for what it is, acknowledge it and actively work to combat it. Let me explain what I mean when I say over commitment is like a slowly spreading disease.
Earlier in the year, one of my clients was asked to speak at an event for HR professionals. The event was still several months away and local, so no travel involved. Even though the attendees did not fall within her target audience, she agreed (the organiser is a personal friend). A few weeks later, my client was invited to be a guest on a podcast (again, not quite within her target audience and by no means within her business strategy). Again, she agreed because she felt it was a great “opportunity”. Several other “opportunities” made their way across her desk (networking, exhibiting at an expo, joining a mastermind group etc.) and without really considering each individual “opportunity”, she said yes to it all.
The thing is: if all of these “opportunities” landed in front of her at the same time, she would clearly have seen that she can’t possibly take it all on. But they didn’t. Each one arrived weeks and months after the other. Slowly, her schedule filled up with “opportunities”. Slowly, she became more and more rushed, overwhelmed and stressed. She initially did not even realise that she was experiencing these negative emotions. Over commitment creeps up on you, without you realising it. It is a slowly spreading disease.
By the time she was referred to me and we started working together, she was totally stressed out. She was at her wits end. She could take no more. The final straw was that she dropped the ball on an important client contract (because she was too overwhelmed to deal with the work, while tending to all her commitments).
When she told me her story, I was reminded of a Warren Buffet quote:
And while we sat in my office, unpicking all of her commitments, it struck me: When we over commit (to all kinds of things that fill our schedules), we are in effect not committing to what is really important. If our schedules are so full to the brim with nice-to-do-may-be-interesting kinda stuff, there is no space (time, energy, effort) left for those really important goals we have set for ourselves. All those activities that will actually drive our businesses forward, gets left behind.
In reality, we are not committing to what is important, but we are over committing to what really is much less important (in many cases). Saying yes to “oh, that sounds like fun” will mean that you have less capacity and ability to commit to activities that will actually be beneficial to your business.
When we over commit, we are in fact uncommitted to our deeper, more important goals.
The One Thing You Can Do
Let me be clear: I am not saying that every opportunity and every invitation should be binned as soon as it arrives.
What I am saying is this: really think about each opportunity and invitation. Does this fit with what I am currently focusing on in my business? Does this fit with my business strategy? What will the benefit to myself and my business be? Will this move me forward on any of my current goals? How full is my schedule at this point? Can I fit this in without negatively affecting the rest of my commitments?
The one thing you can do to avoid over commitment is this: Think! Think about it thoroughly before automatically saying yes.