GTD Tips: Re-negotiate Your Commitments Constantly

And carefully chose what you really want to do, never doing more than you actually can. Because if you will chose the impossible, you will eventually be burned out.

This is one of the toughest things that I have to learn through GTD. I am a very ambitious person. Or at least I considered my self to be a very ambitious person. And guess what, on my personal value scale, ambition is pretty high. I used to think that ambition is a very precious quality that you have or an important habit that you can develop.

Well, not anymore. Or, to be more precise, not anymore in these specific terms. If you think ambition is aiming for the impossible, then it’s a lost cause for me. If you think ambition is the courage to completely and fully live your life, maximizing all its manifestations, then I’m with you.

In order to fully live your life you must make adjustments. In my case these were serious adjustments. You are bound to think that career and self fulfillment is your long life goal. That succeeding in a business is the most you can get. There’s news, you know: it’s not only career. You have also family. You have friends. You have social, business-free, relations. You have travel, and reading, and music, and movies. There’s a lot out there.

When I tried to make room for all of these in my life, something terrible happened: I had to let go of some of my career goals. Some of my work tasks. Some of my business habits. And it really hurt. It made me feel like crap: I can’t yet have a personal life, and also the business is going down (or so I thought, at that time).

The answer to this situation was to constantly re-negotiate my commitments. And this has proven to be far more difficult than just pushing my business beyond the sky. Far more difficult. Because I revealed parts of myself that were under considered, parts that I ignored, parts that I didn’t take care about. And I slowly started to grow them. I learned that I have to let go something to make room for something else.

I learned that frustration is generated not by what you don’t do, but by how you will feel about that. If you feel you MUST to that, and you don’t do it, eventually, that feeling will kill you inside. It will break your self-respect, your self-confidence, and it will weaken your risk-taking capacities. It will burn you out.

Another big confusion I made all this time was the identity between my commitments and who I am. I learned to draw a line between my chosen commitments and my self. I am a person, I can’t identify with things, Those are just things. I can re-negotiate them anytime. I have this power. I decide if I want to do that, or not. It’s not the other way around.

On my weekly review, I constantly scan all the future items, or reference items that I stored. If I feel I’m not up to that, I postpone it, or I use something like a tickler reference solution (a calendar, combined with some triggers). Each week I analyze and see if I can promote those postponed things into doable actions.

In several weeks, I started to feel better. And now, after several months, I know it will only get better.

6 thoughts on “GTD Tips: Re-negotiate Your Commitments Constantly”

  1. Great post, its easy to agree to the gtd idea in principle, but like you say, committing to it is another thing. I always put decisions into the someday/maybe category, and review them monthly.

  2. I am retracting the metanoia – rethorical point, my mistake, as I wanted to speak about metanoia as the permanent spiritual conversion.

    I think that events are remaining usually the same, only the inside is rearranging.

  3. @Mihai: those Greeks really knew their stuff ;-)… But it’s more than metanoia here, it’s constantly rearrange yourself in front of the events, not just redescribe the events…
    @Jennifer: thanks Jennifer, these are very kind words 🙂

  4. Metanoia (from the Greek μετανοῖεν, metanoien, to change one’s mind) is a rhetorical device used to retract a statement just made, and then state it in a better way.


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