Overcommitting is a serious problem that often flies under the radar, especially for women. Somewhere along the road the idea emerged that you as a woman had to do it all (and do it perfectly with grace). Oh, and you are supposed to look good while you do it.
Here’s the thing, trying to be everything to everyone is impossible.
Being involved in every extra-curricular activity is exhausting. Joining every committee is draining. A lesson I learned a long time ago was this – just because it works on paper, does not mean it will work in reality.
Just because you can fit all those committees and meetings and activities and social commitments on your weekly calendar does not mean you should do them all. If you do, chances are you won’t be able to do them all well. When we over commit, we think we are doing good by giving of ourselves, but maybe there are others who want to serve and be involved. Maybe saying no is a way to pass the serving opportunity to them? Wanting to be involved in everything possible, whether it be due to FOMO or because you’re trying to live up to the expectations of others, usually doesn’t work out for the greater good. It typically leads to burnout and overall poor performance.
It’s easy to fall into the pressure of saying yes to everything and everyone. You go back to that idea that we should do it all and make yourself feel guilty when you turn down opportunities to be involved. Not only does guilt distract your focus, but you’re not going to be able to give 100% if you’re tired and drained and only able to function at a minimal percentage. There must be a balance. You need to define your boundaries. You get to choose what you want to do instead of giving in to what you think you’re “supposed to do.” You have the choice to truly design your life!
So how do you know if you’re overcommitting or being an active member of society? Where do you draw the line?
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when trying to determine what to add to your plate and what to pass on:
Do I sometimes dread following through?
Sure, we have all said yes to a commitment that we felt obligated or pressured into doing. However, if you are finding yourself constantly checking your inbox and text messages hoping for a cancellation notification when it is time to fulfill your commitment, it could be a sign that you’re doing too much.
Am I cutting corners or just doing the bare minimum?
When you are working on a project and you start to calculate how little effort you can put in or how few words you can write and the finished product still be acceptable, it may be time to re-evaluate those commitments.
Is my calendar so full that I don’t have time to serve myself?
Maybe you find that your to do list is getting longer rather than shorter. Maybe you cannot remember the last time you had unscheduled time to do something for yourself. These are all signs you might be overcommitting.
Am I spending more time fulfilling commitments than I am with my family?
This is where you need to re-evaluate your priorities. If you are consistently so tired when you finally do get home that you are too tired to play with your kids or have meaningful conversations with your spouse, maybe it’s time to start saying no to things outside of your home and say yes to your family.
Does the thought of dropping everything sound amazing?
Maybe you daydream about quitting all of your responsibilities and running far away. Perhaps you have called out of a commitment with a made-up excuse. True, that is not the responsible thing to do, but it makes your burden feel a little lighter. If that’s the case, it’s clear this falls into the category of overcommitting.
It’s okay to commit to less so that you can do those things with excellence. You’re allowed to pick things that fill you up. You should choose the things that excite you the most. Do things because YOU want to, not because you think OTHERS want you to!
How do you do that? How do you decide where to say yes and invest your time?
Before committing to something ask yourself questions like these:
Is this going to be life giving?
Drawing personal and professional boundaries is vital to a thriving healthy life. When deciding whether or not to say “yes” to a commitment, take a step back and evaluate. Saying yes to things that will leave you fulfilled is important.
Does this commitment align with my core values?
Your core values are your fundamental beliefs or principles. We all operate out of a few core values, whether we know it or not. You shouldn’t feel the pressure to say yes immediately simply because an opportunity sounds good. Take some time to gauge how this lines up with what you value.
Am I committing to this because I WANT to?
This goes back to feeling the pressure to do and be all things. If you are saying yes to something, it’s important to ensure it is something you truly want to be a part of, not because you feel pressured to participate in it.
Does this genuinely excite me?
It’s no secret that time is a limited and valuable resource. The “extra” things and commitments you spend your time on should be fulfilling and exciting for you! Granted there will be tasks you don’t enjoy, but overall the things you spend your time doing should be something you look forward to.
Is this going to grow me personally OR professionally?
There is nothing wrong with doing something simply because it will grow you. If participating in an after-hours work event will present you with the chance to grow professionally, that’s a good thing! If attending a weekend conference is going to develop you personally, maybe you should take full advantage!
Burnout due to overcommitting tends to sneak up on us, and almost everyone has dealt with it. Now that you know it is preventable it will require action and intentionality on your part. You are in charge of when and how you invest your time. I would encourage you to take a few minutes and write out your current commitments, and ask yourself some of the questions above. Cross out and hand off anything that you need to. Taking charge of your time will make space for you to live a more fulfilling life and to better serve others.