11/30/2018 – On Effort Over Output

I need some new metrics to use to measure my progress. The PTA gig has taught me that my Inner Critic has a near limitless capacity to rip me to shreds with whisperings about how I haven’t done enough, what a lazy lout I am to think that I can close my inbox for the day or attend to other areas of my life. I’m drowning in my own outsized expectations. More fundraising! More restructuring of the organization! More community building! More time in the classroom! He mentioned that he would like me to do this and she mentioned that she needs me to do that and all that in addition to the ever-growing list of things I want to accomplish in every area of my life.

Boundaries, yes. I need firmer lines drawn and more of them. But I’ve also been thinking about the difference between measuring my progress based on effort versus output. How much sleep am I willing to lose for this volunteer effort? Little to none. Do outside forces want me to give more than I already am? Always. I’ve had weeks where I thought about and worked at my PTA tasks from the moment I get up, through my kids eating dinner and taking baths and reading stories, through late into the night, and I go to sleep feeling like shit because progress is slow and I still don’t feel like I’m giving enough.

But that’s because my metric for self-measurement has been based on task completion. When I mark things as done, that’s when I feel good… for about 10 minutes and then generally the pressure mounts around the next thing.

I can give more, I can sleep less, I can shut down other areas of my life in order to give more. GIVE MORE MOAR MOOOREEEEE. Or I can decide to adjust my measurement to focus on effort instead of output. How many hours am I willing to give this week? And the next. And the next. If I reach the end of the week and I’ve given the allotted time but there’s still work to be done that means we either need to adjust our expectations re: how much we’re able to accomplish and on what timeline *or* we need more volunteers. (It’s usually, generally, pretty-much always the latter.)

Effort. That’s how I need to measure my progress from now on.

4 Comments

  1. Considering how little professional experience you have, perhaps your expectations are not in proportion with the goals of the existing organization. Dreaming big dreams is great, but since the PTA has been chugging along for years, possibly it doesn’t need big changes.
    Listening and learning are just as important as sweeping gestures. And a lot less stressful, too. Good luck!

    Reply

  2. I think there is a happy medium. Setting a semi-flexibke hours limit, while also acknowledging that sometimes the tasks just have to get done.

    Reply

    1. There has to be, right? If I’m not willing to dig in and get stuff done by a deadline I need to be in a different line of work entirely.

      Reply

  3. Perhaps a different career path would be worth investigating. Not everyone has to hit hard deadlines, or meet a sales quota, or earn a commission.
    The title on the door doesn’t actually equal your worth ASA human being. Attention and approval from random online strangers is not important, in the big scheme.

    Reply

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