Have you ever sat at your desk, so overwhelmed by the "#1" priorities on your massive task list that you just sat there numb? I get it. I've done it (okay - do it), and created a diagnosis for it. The question is, where did it start - better - how do I stop?
Twenty years ago I hung the proverbial shingle to my first photo business. My mentor had since passed away, and realized I had no shirts to tug on when I had questions. I joined Oregon's state affiliation to Professional Photographers of America, and was sent straight to the print committee. I wanted to know if my work was even good enough to sell, so they told me this was the fastest place to learn that answer.
Within a few months, I found myself at my first print competition loading perfected 16x20's on a triangular carousel from behind a curtain. One panel, faced the professional panel of certified judges, one panel was being emptied where the decided score was written on the back. The panel I was on... "The pre-judging panel" as it was jokingly called. You guess what the judges would give it, before it was spun to face them, then try not to make audible gasps when you were off by 20 points.
I learned so much on this committee, that I found myself on Oregon's Court-of-Honor for six consecutive years winning plaques and trophies. I suppose that's where the addiction occurred. I gave, I got a reward, I wanted to give some more.
Within no time, I was committee chair, rewriting digital media into the state rules. Somehow, I was also beta testing software for professional photographers. Oh, and writing a technical article for an international speaking organization called "One Click @ a Time". (Lay speak to help baby boomers learn geek). I also served as architect of a new studio build-out. Motivating a contractor in the world of "Possibility Thinking" (he dared doubt my impossible completion date) and at church - well, I found myself quite active in an ad-hoc committee to renovate and monetize several cabins on the church property. Speaking of ad-hoc committees, as a board member to Professional Photographers of Oregon, I discovered the meaning of ad-hoc by proposing a new logo. Well, you get the picture, I am a Yesaholic!
Busy, busy, busy, then add a little more busy, and eventually... AHHHHHHH!!! This year, as I evaluated another year of aggressive goals, a term came to me that better describes this primal scream, line-of-demarcation - Priority Paralysis!
That moment when you sit at your cluster-F'd desk facing more urgent tasks, than merely important ones. So many "#1's" on your priority numbering that you just sit there in a stupor, wondering why you don't keep scotch in your desk. You know, when you can't even meditate, because your conscious is thinking "but I have to... and I need to... and I can't because I'm late for..."
Torn between my desire to serve and need to survive, I've spent many years mastering my use of an app called Evernote. It has seriously allowed me to be one of thee most on-my-game multitaskers, juggling otherwise impossible accomplishments. Enough so, that I realized it also led me to strike a balance and face my condition.
I have an amazing business that wants (and deserves) more of my time! Time that my hair-trigger, inner-giver just gave away again!
Chamber networking, led to marketing committee, leadership training, and donated camera time. Donating services to a non-profit in Kenya led me to Speaking at a Rotary club, which led to membership, which led to PR Committee service. After helping charter a BNI group, I happily put up my hand for Education Coordinator. Business picked up, I grew to a new location, bordering another chamber and of course - another committee.
Were it not that my friend Sandy and I started a Masterminding Group, I might not have assessed just how impossible my "possibility thinking" had made it to actually achieve my goals for this year.
If this sounds like you - please say it with me. "I am a Yesaholic, and doggone it people will still like me if I say no."
You ARE a great person, and your family also deserves a bit more of your brain to arrive home with the body. (just needed to hear myself say that out loud and public).
Please don't get me wrong, what all of these organizations needs is more volunteers, not less. If you're already giving and serving in other capacities, you merely use Richard Bach's quote from the book "Illusions".
"The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, I've got responsibilities."
If you don't put your hand up at the next meeting, trust me, people will still love you. They may not be the people sitting at that table, but even better, they'll be at your dining table. If you DO put your hand up, but just need to master your systems to stay atop your desires - try this post.
"Service above Self" and "Givers Gain" mantras will remain a part of my vocabulary. I'll stay with Rotary, and am very grateful for the opportunity to share little nuggets of wisdom as a BNI education coordinator, but as of this morning, I added "the Brian Committee" to my duties. (playful words-of-support from my loving wife)
Go ahead, keep on giving and serving and doing what a caring person does. But if you find that you don't even have time to meet a goal that could better more society in a bigger way - learn to say "not now". Both words contain the word "no", and it's a good start to becoming more present.
P.S. I wrote this to myself, for myself. If you too piggybacked on the public therapy, you probably have some friends that might also benefit from your sharing this entry. We need to allow more future givers to put their hands up as we learn to keep ours down.