The Balancing Act: You Don't Have To Do It All

If you’re a millennial you know the feeling of the pressure to be successful all too well. I’ve given into this pressure countless times, getting myself involved in everything I possibly can just to have a resume that stands out. I used to think that the extracurricular activities and jobs I put on my resume were what defined my value to the world. There’s a stigma behind the idea of “not doing enough” especially in college. I have a strong support system in place that truly wants me to do well, but sometimes others don’t understand how their words can stress me out. I’ve been in a position where I’ve completely overloaded myself and it wasn’t fun. Though being overinvolved was tough, I learned so much about what to do next time around. Here’s a few of my own insights on how to effectively balance your commitments:

Don’t “do it all”

The pressures that we face are very persistent, but ask yourself: is it worth the never ending stress? Feeling that instant gratification whenever someone is impressed by your efforts is great, but it might be good to re-evaluate why that is if that’s the only reason you’re so involved. The thing about doing it all is that it takes away from being able to focus on the things we do best. If you’re involved in three or four extra commitments in addition to work or school, the probability of excelling in all of them can decrease immensely. For example, last fall I completely overloaded myself with responsibilities. One day, I was leading a group in an activity and made a very embarrassing mistake that could’ve been avoided had my mind not been in a million different places. It might be tempting to get involved in everything you can think of, but it’s not worth not being able to give your all to the commitments you truly care about.

You’ve got to prioritize

There are a million things you can get involved in, but what are you genuinely interested in or passionate about? A way I’m going about picking what I want to spend my time doing in the fall is thinking about the commitments I have now and what gives me the dreaded feeling of, “crap…” whenever I have to do something related to it. If said commitment isn’t mandatory, I’m cutting it out. Prioritization is key here. As a college student, classes alone can be very overwhelming. Put two or three extracurriculars on top of that and add a part time job? Okay now, relax.

My rule of thumb is to find one or two commitments that I am passionate about and also see benefiting me in the long run. That’s my cut off. If I’m having trouble narrowing things down, I assess the time commitment. For instance, it might not be the best idea to assume a position as president of two different clubs. That would take up a ridiculous amount of time. Instead, you might pick one leadership position and take more of a backseat role to another club you’re interested in. By ranking in terms of what’s mandatory, followed by passions and time commitment, you’ll be able to find the best use of your time.

Less commitments + more brain space = way better results

The more time you spend on things you’re passionate about, the easier it is to gain traction in those areas and truly experience growth. If you’re busy pushing your limits, you won’t have the time to sit down and wrap your mind around one thing. Narrowing down what you’re involved in to the most important things allows you more brain space to excel and think about new ways to improve your performance in those key areas. Envision what it would be like to achieve maximum productivity in things you care the most about. Imagine the amazing effort and ideas that would come from less divided attention and more focus. I’m seeing incredible things. Aren’t you?

The truth about the balancing act is that you actually don’t have to do it all. Most likely, you’ll find yourself way more successful in the things you’re passionate about if you don’t bog yourself down based on the ridiculously high expectations of yourself or others. Does that mean get rid of all commitments? Absolutely not. However, I for one believe in a good balance. In light of that, the next time you have to assess what you need to commit your time to, keep all this in mind, and make sure to let me know how it goes!