Don’t overextend: You don’t have to do everything

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

It’s OK to quit a club or activity. It’s OK to drop a class that isn’t worth the time. Obviously, while still being respectful of others’ time and money, it’s OK to respect your own time.

You don’t have to do everything. You don’t have to join 10 clubs or take 21 hours in order to be the best. In fact, according to the American Psychology Association, having priorities and giving time appropriately are necessary skills to achieve career and personal goals. College is a place of opportunity, and I believe in taking as many opportunities as you can through clubs, jobs and experiences in order to make the most of it for you and your future. It’s important to find what you care about and how to extend it in your life path. However, that only applies in relation to how healthy it is with regard to your results and your passions.

First, understand your passions. While being involved in multiple organizations and classes and being somewhat of a “jack-of-all-trades” is great in theory, it has a few cons in its execution. Using your time and energy in small amounts toward multiple passions can prove to be negative for the outcome of your work and your involvement. The definition of a jack-of-all-trades is a person who does “passable work.” Passable is not passionate work, nor is it great work.

An article by Andrew Pratt, an accountant-turned-software engineer, goes more in-depth when explaining how being a jack-of-all-trades can have negative effects on the workforce.

“This lack of specialization is the opportunity cost of trying new things,” Pratt said in the article.

Lacking specialized passions or commitment in activities can, in turn, cost greater skills or opportunities in the future. While the article is written about a workforce jack-of-all-trades, it applies to students as well. This mentality is further seen in a Forbes article about overcommitment. The author — Demir Bentley, Forbes Councils member and co-founder of Lifehack Bootcamp — explains real life effects of overcommitting oneself.

“When you say ‘Yes’ to everything, rack up dozens of commitments and keep yourself spread thin … you create an excuse for not leveling up,” Bentley said.

Having various commitments creates an excuse to not put all of your work into a few specialized areas that actually matter toward your life path.

Finally, besides negatively affecting a student career-wise, this type of overcommitment can affect your mental capacity for passion. In Pratt’s article, he explained a perspective from the company side about hiring those who seem to be spread too thin.

“People who are always looking for new things often do so from a struggle to stay engaged,” Pratt said.

To note, this article does not apply to people who need jobs to survive and are involved in academics to keep scholarships. Not everyone is privileged enough to have a choice in a busy schedule. This article also doesn’t suggest to not be in multiple clubs. I personally was in a few clubs my freshman year; that number got lower my sophomore year, and I’ve committed to a job and one main club this year. I have friends who are still in multiple clubs and have jobs. It all depends on what you can personally commit to and what is healthy for you — career-wise and personally.

Take the time now to find those passions. The APA article opens with a quote that best shows the promise of committing to what passions you can.

“Overpromising, overextending, overestimating and overdoing does not help you live a balanced life, take care of yourself or develop a positive and healthy professional identity.”