Mistakes Caused by Over Commitment


Welcome! I wanted to share with you today the three biggest mistakes I ever made. Mistakes that led me to the biggest improvements in my life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m using the term mistake in its most common usage, i.e. when actions I did, did not do, or did poorly led to problems that didn’t serve me. I do not believe that there is any possible way for me to make a mistake, as everything that has happened, in the end, has led me to be the person I am.

So, much like my article on Hitting Bottom, this one is really about the idea that mistakes, failures, etc. really aren’t that at all. They are things that occured that I learned something from.

But back to the point:  Failure, mistakes, and problems all stem from a single cause — actions I took where I allowed my ego to overcommit me. There is no action, deliverable, work product, or outcome that I may want that, if I am not overcommitted, can be described as a mistake. So all the big mistakes I have ever made are overcommitment. These overcommitments were all overcommitments I made to myself.

Mistake # 1

The first was the commitment to work two jobs, go to college full time, and commit to a new relationship. The outcome was that I was expelled from college for low grades. The only thing I changed was to reduce my commitments.

Resolution

I reduced my class load by one class (still full-time) and changed my social commitments.

Mistake # 2

The second big mistake I made was to blame my wife for the fear of abandonment I felt when she wanted time to do something without me. The fear arose in me because of a round of commitments that can only be described as codependent. I committed to not take care of myself and instead focus on what my wife wanted in any moment. I would often not make plans so that I would available to her. I would set aside my wants and needs so I’d be available to do what I thought she wanted. Then, when she didn’t do the same, I felt abandoned. Again, I had overcommitted myself. By not prioritizing my desires and needs, I had set up a sequence by which I felt like I didn’t matter.

Resolution

I uncommitted myself to be available to my wife two nights per week. I started a weekly game night with friends (whom I had to go out and make) and started writing a novel. Both were things that I wanted but had nothing to do with my wife. Almost instantly, by focusing some of my time on what I wanted, my fear of abandonment and anger at not getting what I wanted started to dissipate.

Mistake # 3

The third mistake happened in chasing the job position of my dreams. When I was early in my career I wanted more than anything to be a manager. I wanted to manage people and climb the corporate structure. I overcommitted myself and my team to projects. I often worked more than 70 hours in a week and averaged more than 60 for an entire year.

Resolution

I left my first management position and went back to being a project manager, only this time, I changed my commitment structure. I stopped working lots of overtime. I dropped back to reasonable commitments. Within a year I had been given twice as much responsibility and was serving in a small company as the MIS Manager, Software Development Team Lead, and Lead Project Manager.

(I had to repeat that mistake a few more times before I started to really get it.)

So you see, there are, in our lives, lots of chances to not be perfect. We are given the space to succeed when we do not overindulge our fears and overcommit.

My promise to myself nowadays is to watch for and resolve any overcommitments I make. It really is the root of most of the severe problems we have in our lives.

I hope you are doing well and enjoying your day.

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