Have you ever overpromised what you could really deliver? Or maybe overcommitted yourself to unrealistic projects?
If yes, then I’m right there with you (I’m sure you are shocked … ha!). If no, then we need you to mentor the rest of us. What guidance would you offer us?
I’m learning there are many reasons we find ourselves in these moments of indebtedness to others who are depending on us to fulfill what we said we could, and would, do. The reasons vary according to the person, the season and the request.
But what we likely all have in common is a bit of regret at that moment of realizing we are drowning under the deadline pressure — kicking ourselves for not counting the cost before taking on the assignment.
The actual project itself deserves quality attention, and we most likely have the ability to achieve the goal or we would not have been recruited.
The issue that takes the project from doable to overwhelming for me comes down to timing and what other circumstances are swirling at the moment.
In some cases, an unexpected event hijacked my time and brain space after I committed to take on the project.
In other cases, I truly wanted to help the person achieve his or her goal and was excited to be part of the team making it happen, but I did not slow down to recognize I would actually be more of a hindrance than a help because of other responsibilities on my plate.
Either way, I’m learning to pull back and assess what support is realistic for me to offer new requests in order not to take away from existing commitments — and so I leave enough margin to participate in ministry opportunities as they surface.
I’m also continually evaluating existing routines to make sure they are all still needed.
The more often we review, refresh and reboot, the easier it is to let go of outdated and unnecessary systems and routines.
I’m also learning that many times we let the enormity of the project paralyze our efforts, when chipping away at it a little each day or several times a week would actually get us to the finish line on time.
Sometimes the hands-on help from a friend can make all the difference; and other times we have to block out a day and dive in to tackle it by ourselves.
One thing that doesn’t help, however, is to be scolded about overcommitting in the midst of the project, even by well-meaning friends who think they are expressing concern.
A friend showing up with sleeves rolled up and a willingness to do whatever we need in the way we prefer (rather than what he or she thinks is the best strategy — unless of course we ask for help determining a strategy) makes everything better.
Once the task is accomplished, we can work on how to avoid getting into future binds, but in the midst of the current one, a helping hand and encouraging spirit is what we need.
Another gift we all can grant each other is a guilt-free release from an overcommitment once we realize what has happened.
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