Think about a time when you went above and beyond and did more than you needed to and…no one cared. They didn’t even notice. Ouch. While I am sorry that you felt bummed out, I’m more concerned with the resources (time, energy, willpower, focus, etc.) that you wasted in your overachieving process.

The planning fallacy occurs when we underestimate how long a particular task will take us to complete. I’d like to expand this definition to include overcommitting ourselves when it is totally unnecessary to do so. We do these things (underestimate and overcommit) because we feel optimistic and are biased that we ourselves can complete a big task in a short time frame. This could be because we forget to factor in how long it will take us to complete non-project related tasks (cooking, commuting, cleaning, resting, etc.) and because we are so optimistic that we forget that history proves we need longer time to complete similar tasks.

This is where “nice to haves” come in! They are exactly what they sound like: things that would be nice to have, but that are not necessary to complete a goal. Here’s an example in action: If someone asks you to assist with something but does not give you a timeline, it is perfect okay to ask them for both a “hard” deadline and a “nice to have” deadline. Check in with yourself about what you can realistically provide by the nice to have and the hard deadlines before you commit. Don’t get tricked by the planning fallacy!





*This post is an adaptation of my post “Why You Should Aim for ‘Good Job,’” originally shared on my personal blog, The Tending Year.*