Stop Jumping in to Fix Everything

Your coworker is dropping the ball. You jump in to fix the situation because it’s really uncomfortable for you because your success is dependent on your coworker’s output. She let’s you take over and just sits back. You get resentful and bitter. “Why do I have to do everything around here?”.

Um, did she ask for your help?

This was my life my friend. I’m really good at fixing things and think to myself quite often “it would be easier and faster to do this myself”.

What I have realized is that this is a belief that teenage Holly came up with in order to free up some time from her responsibilities. You see, my mom went back to school when I was 12 and I became responsible for the house. I was not asked, it was assumed.

I took care of cleaning, cooking, laundry and making sure that my brother did his homework and didn’t kill himself doing stupid stuff.

In hindsight, it was a heavy burden for a 12 year old. With so much responsibility, it was no wonder why my brain came up with strategies to lighten my load and make things easier.

It was easier to do my brother’s homework rather than fight him to do it.

It was easier to do the dishes myself rather than begging someone to help.

It was easier to fix problems myself rather than asking for help.

You get the picture.

I honestly believed that it was easier and faster to do it myself.

That unquestioned belief led me to a life of over responsibility. I took over anytime I felt uncomfortable or if there was a problem I knew I could fix quickly. I said things like “who else is going to do it” or “if I don’t do it, no one will”.

I was doing my work and jumping in to fix everyone else’s problems too. It’s no wonder I was working 80-100 hours a week.

The fact that I was so often resentful was a big catalyst for wanting to change my beliefs in this area. I no longer wanted to be a person who was resentful all the time. That took diving deep into why I felt compelled to take responsibility for so many things and then getting really curious about the other person.

Was I really helping them or was I preventing them from learning something new?

Was I taking away an opportunity for them to feel really proud of themselves for figuring it out?

I’ve worked really hard on this in the past few years. I’ve interrupted the “just take over” pattern at least 1000 times and I’m sure I have another couple of 1000 to go.

It’s really quite illuminating how people figure things out when you don’t jump in to fix it.

I let people ask for my help now. When they do, I coach myself to be a guide rather than jumping in to fix it. I ask questions like “what do you think would be an easy first step?” or “in a perfect world, what would you do?”.

So here’s the deal. You get to stop trying to fix things and being overly responsible if you want to. Wait for people to ask for your help. Stop yourself from taking over. Let other people learn and be proud of themselves. They will be much happier and so will you.

You will be amazed at how much time and energy resentment was sucking from your soul. I know I was.

PS. This is exactly how I help my clients. We figure out where you are most anxious at work and then we work together to break the patterns that are causing that anxiety. I work with rebellious overachievers 1:1 to reduce anxiety by 80%. If that’s you, I invite you to schedule a 30 minute call to talk to me about coaching.