Pruning My Commitments

In The Blues

I’ve been experiencing some downtime lately and it’s confused me as to why. As I was pruning my RSS feeds again today, part of my mind started reflecting upon the events of the last few days and then it hit me: I had been making far too many commitments than I could possibly keep.

It was clear now: the last few days I had been so busy I’d started postphoning my appointments, not just once or twice, but daily. And the more I did that, the easier it became to procrastinate and justify it to myself to keep doing it; ‘Since I postphoned it yesterday, I might as well postphone to tomorrow, yadda yadda yadda’.

Of course, all this was just a big fat lie and a one-way ticket to moodswingville. You see, everytime you make a commitment you don’t keep, your self-esteem takes a hit. You have an internal ‘self-esteem/trust bank’, which Stephen Covey rightly calls an Emotional Bank Account.

Your Emotional Bank Account

The more you show yourself that you can be trusted to keep personal commitments, the more emotional credits you earn, and the more it can be withdrawn whenever it’s needed. If you do sports regulary, you’ll know what I mean. You may skip practice one day, but you trust you’ll get back to it as soon as possible without fail, and you don’t worry about it. That’s the power of a rich and deep personal Emotional Bank Account.

But the more you skip practice, the more you might begin to feel uneasy, and rightly so, because your trust balance is getting low. Once you get started back up again though, you’re up and running.

What happens to those people who make a huuuge promise to run 5 miles the next morning at 6am when they haven’t ran in a decade and can’t wake up before sunrise to save their lives? Their Bank Account takes a tremendous hit when they don’t do it the next day, worse, it might even go in the red!

Uh oh! Bankrupt Accounts!

Those people with Emotional Bank Accounts in the red are the ones who’ll tell you they’ll do something, but they don’t really believe they’ll do it.

‘I’ll get up and run tomorrow, unless…’

‘Erm, I really did my best to save this month, but you know there was this great sale, and darn it, I don’t know why I just can’t stick to budget…’

‘I’d love to do that, but I know I just wouldn’t be able to make myself…’

Pffft. No one wants to end up in that place, and I was going there! But my problems contained the seed of the solution, and here is a key to add credits to your Emotional Bank Account:

Only take on the commitments you’re really, really willing to commit to.

I was taking on far too many commitments and seriously underestimating the amount of time I needed to complete each one. I knew I had to review and reschedule my time so that I would be able to keep my word to myself and get my peace of mind back on track. So I turned on my PDA and pruned my appointments.

Are you facing the same problem as I was? As much as we’d like to believe we can do everything; clean the house, get that raise, finish an extra project, learn the piano, be a national ice-skating champion, get another degree, raise that child, win a beauty contest and save the world, we can’t.

Life and time are finite, so we gotta focus. What if less was more? Are there any commitments you’ve made that you don’t really have time to act on right on? Could you either defer them to a later time, put them into a ‘someday/maybe’ list, or drop them altogether?

Whichever you choose to do, remember to stick to that choice. Build up trust with yourself and allow yourself to build a rich Emotional Bank Account.

Related Books:
First Things First: To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy
Getting Things Done : The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

6 Responses to “I Was Stressed Every Time I Sat In Front of My Computer Until…”

  1. qeek
    August 26 2007 at 12:20 pm #

    Funny. A few months ago, I’ve used the very same Windows theme with ObjectDock at the bottom.

    Anyway I think your desktop could be simplified even more.

    – Is ObjectDock really necessary? You can use the Start menu.
    – Use online calendar (like GCal) instead of Rainlendar, and open it only when needed
    – Hide all tray icons
    – Don’t display the date next to the clock :)

  2. Alvin Soon
    August 26 2007 at 2:32 pm #

    Hi qeek,

    I love the dock because it’s a much faster way for me to get to the programs I want. After this post I set it to auto-hide though, which works much better (by the way it’s the resource-light Y’z Dock not ObjectDock).

    I like having my calender on the desktop because I have to go out for events regularly and I like having the reminders there. Plus it integrates nicely with the GTD method of having only time-sensitive tasks in the calender.

    I like having the date on the clock! I know it adds to the clutter but it’s just me – it reminds me of a Mac :p

  3. rob
    August 29 2007 at 3:53 am #

    Thanks for the link to desktopography – superb site and I’ve got myself a nice new desktop. The actual link in your article is wrong i think – it should be

  4. Alvin Soon
    August 29 2007 at 11:06 pm #

    Oops! You’re right, Rob, thanks! The link has been amended.

  5. paket
    September 1 2007 at 12:06 am #

    Complexity and disorder is the natural way of things. Real life doesn’t fit into orthogonal containers. Clutter represents uncertainty, mankind’s greatest fear. Learn to accept it, appreciate it, love it!


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