Be Careful What You Commit Yourself To

I have a bad habit of saying yes to everything. I hate turning things down.

You always remember the lean years — heck, you might even still be in the lean years — but there’s this tendency to think all opportunities, regardless of the work that needs to be done, are good.

It’s never fully about the money but still, you never want to leave money on the table. I hear that’s anti-American or something.

And you’re always down to try something new, too. Because you’re only going to live once, of course.

The truth is, however, that all opportunities are not good ones. And even when money is on the table, by committing to everything, you wind up overextending yourself.

When that happens, you might actually be limiting your chances of finding better opportunities, because you’re so busy trying to finish all the stuff you already agreed to do.

The other thing is, the work definitely suffers. Yes, the experience can be new and interesting, but sometimes you don’t have enough time to fully dive into one thing before you’re on to the next. Sometimes you’re even doing them at the same time.

It all leaves the experience and work itself kind of hollow. You do it, but you don’t feel it.

This might be fine for sending out email and going to meetings, but when it comes to making things — doing creative work, essentially — I think it’s terrible. Your mind is too all over the place, and it’s hard to get it into the one space it needs to be to focus on that thing you’re working on. It’s hard to fully connect with it.

I’ve been trying to say no to a lot more things. It’s a work in progress but I’ve noticed myself being far more focused of late, and whatever things I am working on, are reaping the benefits.

Maybe you know what I’m talking about and can relate.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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