At a basic level, we are all social beings – meaning we need each other to survive and thrive.
The way it typically works is that you sign up for some projects on your own and there are several of your friends that will sign you up for some projects automatically. I call these automatic subscriptions. You can’t escape from these and most important, you should not try to escape from these. They are part of life. People include you in their projects because of the kind of relationship that they have developed with you over a long period of time. They know that you won’t refuse to help – since it’s only a couple of hours of involvement per month. On your side, it seems like a deal too. Only a couple of hours per month. For a good cause, why not?
The problem comes up when you don’t actively manage these automatic subscriptions. When you need to stretch on your other projects and you really can’t take those “two hours” in a month out of your busy schedule.
Here are some reasons why this might be a problem:
One reason will be just the sheer number of automatic subscriptions that you are part of. They can run out of control.
(b) Stretching the commitment
Initially the expectation of you may be only 3 hours per month. A couple of hours may get added as time progresses. This should still be OK but imagine the same thing being repeated on almost everyone of your automatic subscription. Things can get out of control very quickly.
(c) Mismatch of expectations
What someone thinks as 2-3 hour commitment may actually be 5-6 hour commitment (add travel, preparation time, post-meeting followups, intermediate phone calls etc.)
(d) Scheduling conflicts
If you engage in too many of these, there may be serious scheduling conflicts leading to broken promises further leading to trust issues
I can go on but the above are sufficient to make my point – be conscious of your automatic subscriptions. Under subscription may mean that you are not available to people that are close to you and over subscription may mean that you are beating yourself to death to please everyone (except you) A balanced approach is what is required.
Note: While there is a need for balance, I have to warn you that you need to keep getting out of balance every now and then to see how far you can stretch and grow.
Note 1: Here is a Squidoo lens that links to most of the previous articles in this series:
Squidoo: Distinguish Yourself
Note 2: The first 25 entries in the series have been packaged in a ChangeThis manifesto that was published on September 07, 2005. You can download that manifesto here:
ChangeThis Manifesto: 25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself (PDF, Free)
Note 3: My latest manifesto on ChangeThis was published on August 6, 2008. This is a photographic manifesto featuring 15 of my mini sagas (stories in exactly 50 words). Here is the link:
ChangeThis Manifesto: Mini Sagas – Bite Sized Lessons for Life and Business (PDF, Free)