I just made a very hard decision. The fact that I sat on it for four days tells me it was hard. The fact that I made the decision at all tells me I’m getting smarter. Here’s what it was:
A very talented graphic designer asked me if I would trade services with her (she’ll redesign my website if I’ll make hers functional). I spent a week saying “ooh! neat! yay! probably… maybe…” And then, finally, I got honest with both of us and said “no.”
And I’m still wincing, still recoiling in self-disgust that I just turned down the opportunity to have my website redesigned by one of the most talented designers I know for free.
But it wouldn’t be free. It would cost several weeks of hard work on top of an already full tech industry workload and a professional writing course. It would cost sleep, it would cost the last remnants of my social life, it would cost a few notches of my health, and because of all these things, it would also probably cost the quality of the project, and therefore, my integrity as a professional, and maybe even my relationship with this designer. I’m not trying to be dramatic here — this is just the truth of a full plate.
And it’s kind of baffling, how much delusion can set in what such a beautiful carrot as a website makeover is dangled in front of my face. All of a sudden, I become Super Sarah! And Super Sarah doesn’t need sleep or a social life or food or balance, because Super Sarah can do anything if it’s worth it to her. Because a plate is never really full — more can always be heaped on if she’s really hungry, or if it’s really tasty. And what does it matter how awful she’ll feel before it’s done? The point is it tastes good! Ha!
That was my M.O. for a long time, and I grew considerably from it. My reckless acceptance of responsibility took me places I never dreamed, far faster than I ever should have traveled. And it got me into trouble. Too often, I had to choose between honoring my responsibilities and taking care of myself. And too often, I chose to honor my responsibilities. And then I learned the lesson: When you stop taking care of yourself, you stop being able to honor your responsibilities.
These days, doing a good job is more important to me than doing a lot of jobs. For months, I’ve been turning down new paying clients and referring them elsewhere, so what made me think I could take on a trade? A full plate is a full plate is a full plate, and I have responsibilities to honor. I chose those responsibilities carefully.
That makes them worth it.