There is something incredibly liberating about making the decision not to do something and letting go of it.

Think back. Remember that little smile that emerged within the last time you decided not to go to an evening meeting and shot off an e-mail to make it known? It felt good, didn’t it.

In our fast paced, hectic world, all of us from time to time end up with too many items on our to do lists, too many meetings to attend, and too many places to go. Sometimes it becomes simply overwhelming and we have to pull the plug on something.

And when we finally do, we are set free–free to think more, free to do a better job on the remaining tasks, and free to take care of ourselves for a little while.

But while we are enjoying the exhilaration, others may be experiencing a much different feeling. The meeting is less productive, a key decision is postponed, or someone else ends up with more action items…all because we were not there as we had promised to be.

The dilemma is apparent–how do you enjoy the benefits of taking something off of your list without adversely impacting others or reducing the efficiency and effectiveness of the group?

Let’s consider two important perspectives that may help you to deal with this dilemma in the future.

Following Through…My little league coach used to talk about it all the time (and my golf coach still does). About the importance of not stopping before you finish what you have committed to doing, to finishing your swing fully so you achieve maximum results.

If you have played any sport that involves swinging, throwing, or kicking, you are familiar with the difference. When you start and then stop in mid-swing, the outcome is far less than it is if you swing all the way through the ball.

The same thing is true with respect to your commitments. If you begin an action and then don’t follow through, the results will be far less than they would have been if you had taken a full swing.

The lesson? Though it may be hard to do, work to develop the capacity to decide early on whether or not you will be able to take a full swing and follow through. If the answer is yes, then take the task on and give it your best. If not, admit that you cannot do it at this time. No need for guilt or concern–the honest answer will always yield the best result in the long term!

Following Up…It never ceases to amaze me how many people either postpone or neglect follow-up. It happens all the time. A proposal is submitted by a vendor and they never make a follow-up call to check the status. A potential customer leaves a message requesting a callback and the call is never made. Someone makes an offer to do something and get back to you, and you never hear another word.

It happens for many different reasons…people get busy and forget what they said, they envision the potential negative consequences and choose to avoid them rather than confront them, or the urgent day-to-day activities get in the way of the important things that really need to be done.

The lesson? Learning to be more effective with follow-up can alleviate a great deal of the pressure that leads to the need to let go of things. More important, it provides an opportunity to give a heads up to those who will be impacted if you need to remove yourself from something you have previously committed to doing.

Keep these perspectives in mind so that you can let go, follow-through, and follow-up to increase your impact every day!