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I was at a networking luncheon the other day.

Delightful event.

As the entrees arrive, fellow networkers stand up and pitch their organization’s holiday parties.

It’s on Thursday the 11th, and I realize there are 3 other great parties going on that evening. But we have a raffle and a special entertainer and it’s a benefit for Jobs for Youth. So please, please, stop by at our party!

Whew. I feel overwhelmed.

The world is screaming commitment and obligation.

I like to go to parties with the rest of you.

But more importantly, I like to stay underwhelmed.

Obligation is a mental frame. Commitment is a personal choice.

And they are conjoined twins. A heightened sense of obligation will trigger my willingness to make commitments I resent and don’t wish to keep.

Not a great idea in any given work week. Doubly dangerous during this holiday month.

Obligations and too many commitments quickly unravel into a sense of overwhelm. Our mental and physical energies deplete. We all know what that feels like.

Why not underwhelm yourself this holiday season?

Flip the conversation.

Instead of making the usual rounds of holiday parties and seasonal networkers, consider these questions, instead:

Is this event a true obligation? Who decided that this is an obligation? What would be my personal consequences for not honoring this obligation?

And if you can, un-obligate yourself.

Is this an invitation that requires a commitment on my part? What would be my personal consequences for not making this specific commitment?

And if you can, un-commit yourself.

Suddenly you are well on your way to underwhelming yourself.

And if you decide that an obligation really is an obligation – like showing up at your company’s annual holiday party – flip the conversation again.

Decide that you’re going because you want to, not because it’s an obligation.

A more richly energizing choice.