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Recognize your limitations

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As students and aspiring professionals, we are going to face many demands on our time. We are also presented with a number of opportunities that can be beneficial both professionally and personally. Yet it is important to consider our ability to handle what we take on.

I’ve previously written about following through on commitments and how it can impact your professional brand. In most situations, you will be working with a team, and your actions impact your team’s success.

Yet before you get to the point of following through, you have to consider making the commitment in the first place. Of course, in some situations you don’t really have a choice; class work and projects at work are not something you can really opt out of. For those kinds of situations, you need to buckle down and put in the effort.

When you start to look beyond your class work or everyday work, you need to consider what you can handle. For those Type A personalities out there, we certainly believe we can do everything we put our minds to. The truth is though, we can’t, nobody can. Instead, it is important to consider your personal limitations, and what you can realistic contribute as a team member.

When it comes to considering a new commitment, whether it is taking on a leadership role or volunteering for a side project, it is important to consider three important things.

First, can you commit to a schedule necessary for the commitment? Extra activities and projects take time, and they’re not all on a “when you feel like it” schedule. If there’s a regular meeting at a specific time, can you commit to attending it regularly? If you say you’ll take on a specific task, can you commit to setting your own deadline, and sticking to it? Like following through, being conscious of how much time you can commit, before you actually commit, can save you from overcommitting or creating unnecessary stress in your life.

Secondly, are you going to contribute in a meaningful way to whatever you are signing up for? Everyone wants to help out but life can get in the way or you can simply find yourself too busy to adequate prepare yourself for each new item on the table. This isn’t to say you need to be an expert to sign up for something but you do need to be willing to go the extra mile for your teams.

Finally, how will this impact your other commitments? For students, priority number one should be your classes, and taking on too much can have a significant negative impact. Regardless of what you can contribute to a new project or activity, it doesn’t benefit you very much if it means sacrificing your ability to contribute to an existing commitment.

I’m not saying don’t look for new opportunities or sign up for extra activities. In fact, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and be bold, because that is how you grow. Instead, I offer words of caution. When considering a new commitment, consider your potential new team, your existing teams and, most important, yourself. Taking on too much benefits no one, so be mindful of your commitments. After all, we’re only human!

Nicolas Brown, Issues Editor

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