A Test to Keep Your Balance and Avoid Falling Into Old Habits

over committed

This guy may be over committed.

In today’s world, there are so many commitments and opportunities, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find and maintain a balance between your family and your individual needs.  I find myself falling into the same trap every year.  I get busy and then stack up commitments that take me away from my main priority, my family.

We all need time for our lives outside of our families.  I have friends throughout the South that I try to visit on a yearly basis.  In return, they usually end up at our house for a weekend once a year.  I’m lucky that my wife enjoys my friends and she understands that I need to be with them.  She’s in the same situation, with friends as far north as Connecticut.  In the past, I would have to push her out the door to go see them.  Almost plan the trip for her.  Now we work together to schedule our away time with friends.

We’ll schedule out the year knowing certain dates are taken.  Usually there are never back-to-back weekends where are family is apart.  If life were predictable, this would always work and we would never have problems.  Life isn’t predictable however and other opportunities arise.  You commit to them and after committing to a couple of extra opportunities in an already busy month, you find yourself out of control and away from your priority.

How Do You Avoid Over Committing?

My biggest problem with making too many commitments is that I don’t realize it until I’m in over my head.  In a recent talk with my wife, I discovered a way to realize if I was getting over committed.

The “Can I” or “Would Like” Test

I noticed if I wanted to see a friend and knew it was the right decision, I would let my wife know, “I would like to see…”.  I was confident in my request and knew it was the right decision for myself and it would not take away from my family.  My “would like” commitments are a priority.  These are the friends I need to be with or trips I need to take to maintain my personal balance.

“Can I go or see…”  When I’m asking “can I”, I know it’s something I don’t need to do.  I want to do whatever I’m asking to do, but I know I don’t need it.  I realized I was putting the decision in my wife’s hands so I would feel better about it.  If she says it’s okay, then it must be okay.  Even though I knew it was an extra commitment that wasn’t needed and would take me from my priorities.  That wasn’t fair to my wife and in the end it wasn’t helpful for me.  The “can I” opportunities are the ones that knock me off balance.

The Balancing Act  

Now that I identified how I was treating my choice in opportunities, I can now pick and choose with ease.  It’s even easy to let others know why I’m turning down golf, or going for beers.  I’m realizing my time is valuable and I shouldn’t jump at every opportunity and the “Can I” test is my answer.  This test helps keep my life balanced.

My real friends respect these decisions and do not pressure me to join them.  They also know they can ask anytime and if I feel it’s a “Would Like” situation, I’ll join them.

“Can I” or “Would Like” leaves little question to my priorities and keeps me from falling off the beam.  “Can I” keeps me from returning to my Fraternity roots and taking every chance to hang with the guys.  “Would Like” provides the time for me to be with my friends and act like a kid again.  “Would Like” keeps me from being the grumpy old man yelling at kids to “Stay off my Lawn!”.

Next time you’re presented with an opportunity, see how you handle it.  If you’re asking for permission, then it may not be what you need.  If you’re stating importance, then pursue it.  See if this keeps you from falling off the high-wire in life.

Recommend your tests in the comments and pass them along to others.