The Era of Overcommitment

The following is a guest post from Teresa Basich. Teresa is a 20-something currently living in sunny Southern California and working as Content Marketing Manager for the top-notch social media monitoring technology firm Radian6. Teresa is by far one of the most grounded and intelligent people I know – she is already doing some amazing things and it is a pleasure for me to be able to call her a friend. Check out more of her writing over at Writing on Purpose.

When Matt asked me to contribute a guest post during his weeks away from this crazy, pantsless place, the first thing I did was look at my calendar. I’ve never been much of a calendar user; it’s never been my M.O. to live such a framed-out life. But, being in the industry I’m in, and being surrounded by such incredibly driven people, I’ve reached a point where I can’t live without a calendar.

In typical Teresa fashion, part of me is proud to have reached this calendar-necessitating point in my life – it seems like a right of professional passage. But, a substantial part of me is also sorely disappointed to be living in time blocks. I mean, this was a guest blog post we’re talking about. I shouldn’t have had to check my calendar.

Or should I have?

There’s a push now more than ever to do it all, to be all that you can be even if that person is someone you’d hate being in the long run. The race to the top is fierce and, like a highway, your default is supposed to be the speed of everyone else, which will inevitably be faster than anything you’re comfortable with. Even if you’re a go-getter.

Unsurprisingly, this faster-than-light pace we’ve been maintaining for the past few years is finally starting to take its toll. I know more than a handful of people who are starting to crumble under the pressure of high demands, both professional and personal, and the pressure of competition or ambition or whatever the hell pushes them to keep going. Keep driving. Make things happen. Sleep when you’re dead.

When is it enough? I’ve asked this before and I’ll continue to ask it until people actually consider it for more than the two seconds they have to actually think freely about a question. I’ll continue to ask it because when we over-commit, when we push ourselves past our own personal breaking point, we cheat ourselves, our family, our friends, and our work out of serious quality.

Pace and quantity now outshine thoroughness and quality, and that’s lame. That’s all there is to it. From a personal perspective, I’m finally working to pare down my commitments, make the time to think fully through my projects, block out distractions when necessary, and not get sucked into the overcommitted lifestyle that seems to be ruining people on an epic scale.

It’s hard to do, to not get swept away by the speed with which the people around me live their lives. And sometimes I doubt it’s worth it. But the moments in which I can take a full breath because I know I have the time and energy to get something done to the best of my ability are beyond confirmation that I’ve made the right choice to slow down. Maybe I won’t have tons of money, multiple book deals, or invites to all the parties, but at least I’ll know at the end of the day I gave myself the space to do the best I could.