One of the biggest ways I ‘effed up my commitment to work? Passion projects.
It's easy to get caught up in a fast-paced work environment where the desire to contribute, impress your colleagues/boss, support your team, or get involved in something meaningful can lead to over-commitment. While you may initially feel motivated and energized by committing heavily to new or exciting work, the reality is too much of a good thing at work can lead to stress, possible burnout and ultimately, impacts to your productivity. But when you’re passionate about a project or a particular aspect of your work (like I was), it's easy to get carried away and take on more than you can handle.
I’ve worked in many amazing organizations, and had to learn for myself not to get caught up in all the things I could do that would make a meaningful difference. I’d often get so wrapped up in delivering on projects and commitments that supported my employees and our organization I’d end up ignoring my own needs. I pushed my work week up to 80 hours, and then the consequences hit. Exhaustion, physical symptoms (like muscle and back pain) coupled with an unhappy family at home would all pile on right at the point in time I needed to deliver on my big promises. It’s not a recipe for success (professionally or personally).
Not everyone’s path to burnout is through a passion for the work they do. Here are some other common ways you may get lured into over-committing yourself at work:
There’ll always be reasons to take on more commitments at work: These are never in short supply. The hard part is remembering the cost of over-commitment. Passion and enthusiasm are great qualities to have, but it's important to recognize your own limitations and not take on more than you can handle.
To avoid burnout and maintain productivity, it's important to recognize your boundaries, scaling your work accordingly (and any associated expectations). By doing so, you can achieve your goals (and those of your organization) without sacrificing your health and well-being. This also means you’ll be able to achieve all the commitments you need to over your long and successful career.