Are You a Victim of Overcommitment?
In your working career, have you ever felt deep dissatisfaction despite all the great opportunities you’ve had? Did you ever miss the zing in your step or feel your body and mind screaming for a break? Did it at any point feel like you are constantly in a moving train which just doesn’t want to stop, but you are desperate to reach your destination? These points are symptoms of what is called ‘overcommitment’ to work. I’m sure you can relate these symptoms to yourself or to some enterprising leader you know.
Leaders sometimes tend to take up more work than is humanly or practically possible. Such leaders work long hours in offices, travel relentlessly, take up tough assignments, and always volunteer to do additional work. But you may ask, why would leaders put themselves to such a grind? It’s probably because they don’t want to miss out on a single opportunity to grow, learn and be successful. But does this philosophy of overcommitment work? How far can this philosophy take someone in career? Not very far, actually.
Some leaders believe that if they take up every opportunity that comes their way, they’d be successful. They don’t want to miss out on anything. But if you are juggling too many balls in the air, you are bound to miss one. And this is exactly what happens when leaders overcommit to their work. They start missing out on things when precisely that is what they wanted to avoid in the first place.
What happens when overcommitment kicks-in? Usually a fatigue sets in the body and mind, and energy evaporates. Now this could lead to the overcommitted person dozing off in meetings or accidentally scheduling two meetings at the same time. A lot of time is wasted reworking deliverables due to errors or due to no time for proofreading. Work suffers and gets sloppy because the person is moving from project to project without a pause to step back and reflect.
Due to lack of time, miscommunication becomes a norm and causes disconnect and disengagement within the team. Rational decision-making is impacted as the overcommitted person fails to keep moods and emotions under check. Meeting project timelines becomes a task and optimal resource allocation just does not happen. Additionally, focus and consistency in actions is lost.
And so overcommitment starts yielding mediocre results. Gradually it erodes a leader’s credibility and reputation. And lastly, coworkers start to lose faith and trust in their leader. Everything that a leader worked for to become successful is undone because of overcommitment.
It is possible to get further in one’s career by doing less, but working smart. You have to decide whether to overcommit and underperform, or do slightly less and outperform.