Sunday, April 29, 2018

An Obligation to Whom

Self discipline is a powerful thing. It is the ability to make a promise to yourself and keep it. If you are trying to get in shape, then you have to make a promise to yourself to work out on schedule and keep to a diet. It can be easy to let yourself slip now and then thinking that it's just a deal between you and yourself. You can cut yourself some slack, can't you?

It's possible to go the other way as well. You can over-obligate yourself.

For example, someone might be expected to write reports containing certain information, but they then obligate themselves to make them completely free of errors of any kind, creating a much higher standard than the one they are given. It is a noble goal, but not if it causes missed deadlines and personal stress.

If a goal is important, and standards are important, then
discipline is crucial, but sometimes we can place too much
pressure for goals which are not critical.
I committed to write 28 articles in 28 days, and I was feeling some pressure to get highly impactful articles out on time. The discipline to write an article a day for four weeks is a very good thing, which I highly recommend to everyone. However, there are certain articles that address very important and complex subjects, and those articles cannot be rushed.

There are 10 articles in draft form which are not ready to publish, and I was working so much on them that I was taking my attention away from other important things in my life.

Then I made an important realization. I asked myself to whom I was obligated to follow this schedule, and I also asked what the obligation really was. The answer to the first question is that I am obligated to myself. The answer to the second question is that I obligated myself to write 28 articles about something, not necessarily articles of Earthshaking importance, but just to keep to my mental exercise routine every day. I also realized that I have plenty of time. 28 days is arbitrary. I can continue the daily writing discipline longer if it continues to be valuable.

Oftentimes the stress that we feel is not simply the obligations upon us, but the expanded obligations we place upon ourselves:
Not merely cleaning the house, but making it immaculate.
Not merely writing a report, but writing a perfect report.
Not merely composing and article, but composing ideal articles.

At times, a close examination of our obligations will reveal that they are not as strict and smothering as we may believe they are. Some things are just not as important or urgent as they feel like they are.

Are you racing to keep up with true obligations or saddled with obligations enhanced by perfectionism?

No comments:

Post a Comment