Your Career and You: “Life and ‘Overloads’”

publication1I’ve been doing something recently that doesn’t come naturally…never has, so “progress” will be interesting to measure.

Apparently I’m genetically incapable of saying “no,” and I occasionally (aka: “often”) find myself on the edge of mental and physical implosion. I’ve taken the, for me, drastic step of saying “No” when asked to participate in various activities that, previously, I would have dived into headfirst. We’ll see how this exercise goes.

I volunteer for short- and long-term projects based primarily on my experience-tested theory of “that sounds like ‘fun’, so I’ll do it!” Most of them are related in some way to my 30-plus-year active involvement with the Public Relations Society of America.

PRSA has been an amazing relationship both professionally and personally.

I’ve learned so incredibly much thanks to on-line and in-person programs that have covered the full range of challenges and opportunities that a public relations professional will encounter in his or her life. I can honestly say that I would not be where or who I am today had it not been for PRSA, both the national organization and the local chapters that I have belonged to.

On the personal side, I count as friends public relations professionals around the world…some of whom I’ve never actually met in person but with whom I have had a virtual relationship, in some cases, for years.

That being said, these friendships, opportunities, and challenges have come with a “catch.” I often get asked/invited/urged to take part in something. Maybe it’s a blog post. Or participation on a committee. Or lending a hand with an event.

Whatever the case, I wind up with just one more thing on my already-overloaded plate. And, occasionally, deadlines for multiple activities run headlong into each other and I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat realizing what I’ve gotten myself into.

The good news is that I rarely, if ever, let anyone (or myself) down. Deadlines are met. Events come off without a hitch. Blog posts get written and published.

The other “good” (or “bad,” depending on your point of view) news is that I share something in common with many of my students at Curry College where I head the Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the undergrad PR courses…the propensity to test my physical and mental limits.

I had a meeting with one of my student advisees recently and, in the course of our conversation, was reminded that she is taking a full load of courses (and doing very well in every single one) in addition to a two-day-a-week internship and a part-time job. AND she was meeting with me to discuss another part-time job offer that has the potential to turn into a full-time job doing exactly what she wants to do when she graduates in May 2017.

Her enthusiasm was clear. She’s loving every single moment of every single day.

She also realizes that there are limits to how much she can take on and still maintain the high standards that she has set. So we worked out a “work-around” on the second job offer, and we’re waiting to hear how our (her) counter-offer will be viewed. Fingers crossed!!

The point of this story is simple…sort of. For many of us, life is not about “settling.” We want to exceed our wildest expectations. We want to make our mark on our world and our chosen profession.

My advice, then, to myself, to my students, and to anyone who will listen is just this. You know that you’re not going to accomplish this by doing just what’s required to get by. You’re going to have to push yourself…to embrace the “overloads” that life sends out way. But be mindful of what you’re getting yourself into…what you’re promising others that you will do for them.

Don’t let the overload become a burden.


About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 20 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in careers, feedback, Inspiration, overload, PR, PR students, professional organizations, PRSA, public relations, Public Relations Society of America, Thinking, Undergraduate Communication and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Your Career and You: “Life and ‘Overloads’”

  1. Howie Sholkin says:

    I can relate to this. I am a recovering “serial volunteer,” which means I occasionally say no. I have also decided to be a committee or group member but not take a leadership role by myself. So, now I’m down to about a half dozen volunteer organizations or activities.


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