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  • Writer's pictureRobert Norton

Prune your commitments

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Last year, I spent a few days in guilty agony when I decided to hand over my University of Loyola teaching responsibilities to a colleague. It was a class I had built and genuinely loved to teach, but it didn't make sense anymore when I looked at my capacity/demand ratio.

Becoming more resilient means increasing your capacity to meet life's demands, and there is an enormous upside to focusing on building capacity. We increase capacity by reframing our mindset about stress and learning to manage our reactions to it.

But, as much as I believe in the human potential to do challenging and important things, I think we are missing an opportunity if we only focus on one side of the equation. We also need to examine the demands we accept.



Reinhold Niebuhr, the American theologian who inspired the famous serenity prayer, wrote that we need to "seek courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other."

When it comes to demands on our time, we don't spend nearly enough time evaluating what is in our control to change.

The more overwhelmed we get, the worse we are at evaluating our commitments. Take a minute and ask yourself:

-When have I said yes when I should have said no?

-What do I do that drains my energy?

-What used to bring me joy but now feels like an obligation?

-What am I doing to perfection that I could do so-so?

What am I doing myself that I could delegate?

Instead of resiliency, you may want to focus on setting new boundaries, aligning for fit, pruning old commitments, lowering unnecessarily high standards, and sharing the load.

While I suffered for a few days saying no to the opportunity to teach last year, I gained weeks in which I could say yes to something else. When I came back to teaching this year, I had the spark I needed to give my students the energy they deserve.


Don't forget to ask yourself, is this a demand or a choice?



 


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