It’s a bit of a recurring rant of mine. In these modern times we are flooded with opportunities, commitments, options and invites. Where success was defined by how many contacts you could make, and how much information you could collate, today it’s defined by how much of all this “input” you can shut out. Right?
It’s an art. And one we have to perfect. Because no one else is going to protect you from the influx or from the 24/7 imperative.
We get caught up in the trap, however, of thinking we have to respond and take part in everything. Which, down the track, leads to another phenomenon that I’ve also banged on about before:
We’ve all become big fat flakes with each other.
Particularly with our mates.
We make plans and cancel them habitually (I read somewhere that cancelling a plan has the same immediate effect as heroin). We sit on the fence. We give half-answers to invites.
We need to stop this. It’s horrible. It’s making us all feel wobbly and uncertain.
Thusly, my preferred ways to ensure I make an appropriate amount of worthwhile plans, with the right people, that I commit to:
* I only make two plans on weekends. The rest of the time I leave myself open to spontaneity. I’m not great with spontaneity. Uncertainty makes me anxious. But so does overcommitment. I have a crew of mates where we alert each other to “when we’ll be around” and it means we can reach out for a quick tea or walk or Sunday night dinner if we have the energy. A low-fi commitment, but one that’s firm and certain.
* I book in phone call times. I do long drives and airport schleps and I set aside these times for calling people who I haven’t had the energy or time to meet with recently. A call, in an era of texting, is intimate enough. I also walk to work and dinners and movie nights and make calls then, too.
* I meet for yoga or a walk. Coffee, lunch and wine catchups send a shudder through me. In part because they occur at times of the day that are productive periods for me. I never do lunches. They are too disruptive and too long. A yoga class with a mate with a tea afterwards is mindful.
And this pearler…
* I push back with “send me an email with your proposal”. It’s like this phrase has magical culling powers. I’m often asked by second-tier friends and even people I’ve not seen for 10 years to meet for a coffee so they can pick my brains, get advice, be connected to someone etc. They’ll shout me a coffee, they say. Which is nice, but the four bucks doesn’t really cover my time or care. So. I suggest they send through an email that outlines their business case or request so that I can think about it or assess who the best connect is etc.
And. You. Know. What?
Invariably I never hear from them again. And if I do? Great. I know they’re committed, firm and certain and I look forward to meeting up with them and helping them out.
Any kind but firm techniques you might have?