I recently committed to an activity that is causing me a fair amount of consternation. I am up at night fretting over it. It pops into my brain when I am trying to enjoy time with the kids or am writing an essay. I am anxious about the small tasks involved. I shouldn't be. Not only is the activity non-urgent and shouldn't consume so much of my mental energy, I never should have agreed to it in the first place.

The older I get, the more essential making progress towards my personal goals feels. It's as if time has it's own urgency. While we can't choose the exact way life will unfold, we can direct our choices towards our objectives. I thought I was learning to make informed decisions about the way I spend my time time based on that which is meaningful to me.

At one point, my life was entirely overcommitted. I tend to jump in too quickly. I thought if I did everything, I would be more successful, more valuable and more appreciated. In reality, I was only more exhausted and scattered. I pulled in and reassessed. I realized that there are a few things that really matter to me, and if I don't give them my absolute best shot, I will be disappointed in myself. I cleared the days on my calendar and tried to be as present with my children and the projects that were meaningful to me.

I learned to say no. When I wasn't sure, I said, "Let me think about it and get back to you." I was proud of my ability to think it through .and if it didn't make sense at this time, I could politely decline. I clearly must have forgotten this valuable skill.

Here I am in a position of restless worry. Again.

It's best to think things through before you sign up. In the past, I have tried to ask myself if a project or activity is bringing me closer to my goals. Do I have time for this? Is something I am passionate about? I consider what matters to me. Being attentive to and raising my children is essential to me. They will only be children once. I have some passion projects that I am working on, and they hold a great deal of weight in my heart and mind. I am committed to my friendships and the people who populate my life. I am charged with supporting my family in a way that minimizes financial worry and allows for comfort and freedom. I want to make a difference and to contribute kindness and thoughtfulness to a world that is sometimes challenging to navigate.

We are presented with commitment opportunities constantly. There is always another place to volunteer, another committee to join, another job to accept. Many of these possibilities are positive. It can be really fun to coach the soccer team, join the fund-raising committee, take on another project, start a club, be the room parent or art smart representative, organize a gala, speak-out for something that you're passionate about. It's an honor to be able to contribute. When we sign up for anything, I am reminded that it is entirely necessary to do so with an understanding of purpose.

If I were better at compartmentalizing my activities and commitments, I might be better able to do more. This isn't one of my strengths. But, hopefully, one of my strengths will again become learning when to take on a new task and when to continue to focus on the goals I have already set.

Krista Richards Mann can be reached at kristarichardsmann@gmail.com.