How to UNDERWHELM Yourself

Holiday season starts this week. I will have a quiet Thanksgiving dinner with my partner in a tiny Miami restaurant. Just my speed. The holiday party invitations that are starting to arrive make me think of a conversation I had last year. I attended a professional holiday party. Delightful event. Chatted with a vivacious person named Susanna who I had not met before. There are 3 great parties going on tomorrow evening, Susanna said to me. One has a raffle and a special entertainer, and two are benefit fundraisers. I don’t know which one to go to. I feel like I should go to them all. Whew. I felt overwhelmed. I like to go to parties with the rest of you. But more importantly, I like to stay underwhelmed. Obligation is a mental frame. Commitment is a personal choice. They are conjoined twins. A heightened sense of obligation triggers my willingness to make commitments I resent and don’t wish to keep. I’m not a shopper. Last week, however, I took myself to the glossy and bustling Aventura Mall, 10 minutes from my home, in search of a snazzy winter coat I needed. I felt the delirious rush-rush of holiday shoppers loaded up with way too many shopping bags. A collective frenetic overwhelm. Why, I wonder? A sense of obligation? A commitment to what? I coach highly successful people. Successful people never have enough time to attend every meeting, every function, every party that’s put on their plate. Personal success is not sustainable without figuring this one out. What’s a true obligation? One I will honor? And what’s a commitment I’m not willing to make? The more obligation stories we carry, the quicker we unravel into a sense of overwhelm. Our mental and physical energies deplete. We all know what that feels like.

Why not underwhelm yourself this holiday season?

Flip the conversation. Instead of making the usual rounds of holiday parties, consider these questions:
  • Is this event a true obligation?
  • Who decided that this is an obligation?
  • What would be my personal consequences for not honoring this obligation?
If you can, un-obligate yourself.
  • Is this an invitation that requires a commitment on my part?
  • What would be my personal consequences for not making this specific commitment?
And if you can, un-commit yourself. Suddenly you’re well on your way to underwhelming yourself. Every time you un-commit you practice a key success principle. When you underwhelm yourself, you conserve energy for the commitments that matter. Every successful person knows: Most events will be fine if I don’t attend or send a surrogate. Use the holiday weeks to practice the art of underwhelming yourself. Rigorously. Underwhelm feels good. And it always magnifies personal success. If you decide that an obligation really IS an obligation – like showing up at your parents’ New Years’ Eve party even though it isn’t always a load of fun – flip the conversation again. Decide that you’re going because you want to, not because it’s an obligation. It’s always the more energizing choice. Have a very merry and love-filled Thanksgiving!!! And yes, I DID enjoy my trip to Aventura Mall. The coat IS snazzy. Truly. Related: Great Communicators Know That Adjectives Are Your Friend