Taking on New Commitments: The Girl Scouts

Dec 11, 2015

As 2015 winds down,  you may be asked to take on new commitments for the new year, either personally or professionally. You know, supervising field trips. . . becoming department chair. . . coaching a sports team. . . hosting a book club. . . joining a board. . . just to name a few.

So, assuming you have an actual choice in the matter, what’s the best way to decide if you should take on a new thing? Let’s use a real-life example and see if you can figure out which decision I made.

The situation: My five-year-old gets a notice in her homework folder about the Girl Scouts. She’s into it. She doesn’t have many activities. I’m a former Girl Scout. It’s cool. So I send back the slip, sign her up, and figure some other enterprising parents will coordinate the whole thing.

The ask: I get a follow up phone call from a mom acquaintance asking if I would consider co-leading and maybe even using our basement for the troop meetings. Hmmmm. . . my life already feels incredibly full between writing, workshops, airplanes, two small children, and all the other usuals. So what to do. . . ?

  • Defer the decision. I re-read the emails and I listened to the mom on the phone, but I didn’t say yes or no in the moment. My stock answer (“That sounds interesting. Let me look things over and get back to you.”) went over decently well.
  • Investigate the true time commitment. My assumption about co-leading the Daisy troop was that it would be an all-out time consuming Pinterest-fest. But in reality, the troop meets once per MONTH for just an hour, and only has about six girls as members. I asked the other leader how many hours she thought it would take to pull this off and carefully reviewed the various job descriptions.
  • Determine if the tasks at hand are easy and enjoyable for you. There was already another mom signed up for the creative, programmatic side to cover the things I like watching, but do not enjoy creating, such as arts and crafts activities, nature walks and the like. While I certainly like challenges in my life, I have enough right now. It is unlikely you will ever see me out coaching a kids’ sports team. But the co-leader does things like scheduling, communications, and confirmations. This I could handle.
  • See if you can get any strategic multitasking out of it. My husband and I have also been chatting about how we each need a little more 1:1 time with each kid. This would be a perfect way for me to get some time with my kindergartner without her lovable but mischievous 3-year-old brother on hand.
  • Evaluate if the opportunity is in line with your values or goals. This one was squarely in line with our family’s values around community and citizenship. And as a full-time working parent who is often on an airplane every week, it seemed like a great way for me to stay connected to my daughter’s school community.


So, that’s it. You are looking at the co-leader of a Daisy Girl Scout Troop! Come spring, let me know if you need any cookies!

How do YOU evaluate new opportunities that come your way?

PS – Being generous AND ruthless with your time