“I’m so sorry. I’m behind.”
“I’ll get caught up as soon as …. ”
These are phrases that I’ve not only heard several times recently, but I’ve also used myself more than once.
We all live such incredibly busy lives. We are involved in so many things. This is often why we are successful, but it also sometimes means that we fall behind in our volunteer roles. After all, it’s a volunteer role, it naturally takes second fiddle to family, work, and the immediate commitments staring us in the face.
I do not feel good when I’m late on a commitment. I actually find myself rehearsing telling people my “reasons” in my head – not because they need to hear them, but because it somehow makes me feel better .. and yet, it doesn’t make me feel any better. And then it gets worse because I don’t want to deal with the fact that I’m behind, so I put it off more,and … you get the idea
So, I’ve been thinking about how I can avoid this happening. I’ve had a few thoughts, and I’d like to share them with you.
- “Flush it”, and then set a new goal and deadline. One of the things I’ve found is that once I miss a deadline or goal, then I don’t want to deal with it because it just reminds me that I’ve already missed the deadline. There is no longer success – just wrapping up failure, so I ignore it – which, of course, just makes it worse.
When I’m coaching tennis or basketball, and one of my students makes a mistake, I often use the phrase “flush it”, and even encourage them to make an actual flushing motion. Dwelling on the mistake does not help (neither does completely ignoring it – but that’s for another discussion). I also constantly set up mini-goals to give them an opportunity to demonstrate competence.
Do the same for yourself. Flush that you missed the deadline, and set up a new one that you can now achieve.
- Stop the “I’ll get caught up when”… game. I use this all the time. Recently, it was “as soon as I get a job” (so that my travel/interview schedule slows down), then it was “as soon as I finish my dissertation”, then “as soon as I finish this big presentation” … you get the idea.
There is always going to be something else. Yes, workflow and responsibilities do ebb and flow, but I find those “ebbs” are never as often as I think they will be. Embrace the now, and live it. Don’t allow yourself to be baited into thinking that there will be some magical moment when the to list will be clear. Simply accept the reality, and work in the now.
- Thank yourself. Thank others. Remember why you are doing what you do.
When I’m behind on volunteer roles, I don’t feel good about it. And then I forget that it is something good that I’m doing, and that I’m doing it because I care deeply about the cause. The problem is, when I forget to celebrate my own accomplishments then I also forget to relish in the reason of why I volunteer – and that is the real motivator. Thank yourself for everything you have already done and allow yourself to be inspired by the mission of what is yet to be done.
With that, I’ll close with a quote that Katrina (I believe) shared at a recent meeting. Stan Warinka has this tattooed on hir arms, although it’s actually a Samuel Beckett quote.