No! I don’t mean quitting your Pluralist life, but I have been thinking about all the things I do and have done and I’m wondering about whether I should put some of them aside.
It’s amazing how our commitments stack up, incrementally, until we realise that every moment of the day is accounted for. It’s so easy to agree to things, to take on a ‘little’ project, to add one day a month (it’s only a day!). It’s easy to get involved in a discussion, have strong views, feel passionately about something, only for it all to translate into an obligation we slightly resent.
I have been flattered into projects, pressured into them, emotionally blackmailed, even conned. I can’t remember the last time something I was talked into actually turned out as promised. What’s more, I have myself done the flattering, pressuring and so on (not conning) when I have seen the perfect person for a role and been determined to get them on board. These things are generally driven by good intentions but that doesn’t mean we are morally obliged to remain tied to something just because we said ‘yes’ months or years ago.
I think there is a fear of appearing flaky or unreliable if we drop things but it is perfectly reasonable to review our workload and it’s essential that we are wholehearted about the projects we are engaged with. I’m sure many of us have sat in meetings, longing for them to end or received emails that make our hearts sink. If that happens every time, you have reached a stage where there is a risk of disengagement, leading to apathy. And that helps no one.
As a very general rule of thumb, I try to review anything I have been involved with for seven years or more. How does it fit in with my portfolio of activities? Am I still excited by it (or at least moderately interested)? What would it mean to the project if I left? What would it mean to me if I left? Is a succession plan in place? Is a succession plan necessary? Are others queuing up to get involved and, if not, can I find some candidates? Sometimes we just have to walk away and let others worry about dealing with that, sometimes we can smoothly ease ourselves out but whichever way our exit goes, don’t leave it until you are driven half mad with resentment by a commitment you should have abandoned years ago.