I don’t think I know any woman that hasn’t struggled with the problem of being over-committed. Overcommitment has been a way of life for most of us. We live in a time and culture that rewards us for taking on multiple responsibilities and we have come to equate our self-esteem with how much we take on and how much we accomplish. In fact, one way of defining over-commitment is “life”. The lines between active participation, commitment and overcommitment can be blurry.
There are many positive motivations for taking on many projects and responsibilities. We may feel moved to participate in and contribute to a variety of worthwhile causes. If we have leadership skills, we may find ourselves frequently asked to take on positions of leadership in organizations. Or we may be viewed as the “counselor” or best listener in the family and end up supporting and trying to help way more people than we can possibly assist and still take care of our own responsibilities.
As women, we sometimes overcommit for other reasons. We feel pressured by others who expect us to fulfill more roles than is humanly possible and for many of us, the word “no” is not in our vocabulary. Sometimes, guilt is the primary driver of our choices; we may feel less worthwhile and less valued when we turn down requests for service or other opportunities. One consequence of taking on too many responsibilities is that we end up having to say no to things that we would really enjoy, things that would replenish us and feed our souls. However, even these activities can end up contributing to feeling overcommitted.
Allowing ourselves to become overcommitted has consequences for our health, our energy levels, our attitudes about what we are doing and our emotional life. However, it is both possible and necessary that we get a handle on the problem of overcommitment and bring our lives back into better balance. Let’s discuss overcommitment in our lives.
- Do you feel that your life is too empty, too full of obligations or fairly balanced these days?
- Has the number of things you take on increased or decreased over the past few decades?
- Do you find that your orientation toward taking on multiple commitments has changed as you have become older?
- What would it look like and feel like if you had just the right amount of activity and the right number of commitments in your life?
- When you are not overcommitted, what is there time for in your life that is not available when you have taken on too much?
- Share any successes you have had in backing off from being overcommitted and establishing or re-establishing life balance.