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