How to Stop Overcommitting and Overpromising
By Phemi Segoe
Do you often feel like you are running after the elusive ‘B’ word? Yes, I’m talking about balance. What does balance look like for you? Or are you constantly trying to manifest it and always failing?
Well, balance for me doesn’t exist and it’s probably because I don't believe in it.
I don’t believe balance exists when it comes to our lives because for two or three things to truly be balanced they would have to weigh the same or be given the same amount of attention, at all times. By definition, balance requires even distribution and I am thoroughly convinced that working 5 days a week only to rest for 2, automatically throws the very notion of balance out the window.
Our work life isn’t meant to balance out with our personal lives because it’s all life. The illusion of separation is what also cunningly creates this mistaken idea that the time to rest will emerge all on its own without actual intentional effort on our end. We think that the more time we put in now, the more time we’ll have to ‘enjoy life later’ but, says who? Pardon me but why do we believe in ‘later’ so much?
Why do we overcommit to tasks with the idea that we will have later to relax?
Why do we overpromise things as if the patterns we create will just stop perpetuating themselves?
Why have we designated the present for ‘keeping our head down and the future - that we have no guarantee of - for living happily? This isn’t a call to recklessness or nearsightedness but rather to try to put into perspective that overcommitting ourselves to tasks only steals more time away from us that we will never get back.
When we are overcommitted, we rush through life. We live in haste constantly juggling and trying to keep balls from tumbling on top of us. This way of living is not only exhausting but it is also terribly anxiety-inducing. And because we overcommit ourselves by choice (the fact that this is self-inflicted) we compromise our self-trust which inevitably results in self-doubt and a huge knock to our self-image. When we’ve promised heaven and earth to everyone, we cannot give ourselves the stars. Again, putting ourselves on the backburner.
So how do we stop? If only there was a 1-week action plan to follow that would fix all our problems but like all great things in this life, it’s not that easy. But we can take steps that when committed to (did you see what I did there?) should yield desirable results. Before you begin this process, please be advised that it will make you very uncomfortable and you will revert to your people-pleasing tendencies but you need to remember that, you only have one life and your highest intention is to live while you still can, okay? Great.
1. Swap ‘B’ for ‘P’
Remember that, there is no balance in life, there are only priorities. And to have clear priorities, you need to differentiate between what’s a priority for you and what’s a priority for someone else. After making that distinction, refer to number two (2).
2. Important vs Urgent
Everything is urgent to someone and everything important needs to be attended to. But where do you start and how do you navigate? Someone else’s emergency cannot always be your urgency. No matter how badly you want to help, if you are already committed to something important, then the urgent will have to wait. Also, important things are usually more fulfilling; they add to our lives and our growth. They create opportunity for the things we desire to manifest while urgent things tend to drink up our attention and leave us depleted.
3. Learn to say “No”
If you are a full-blown, smile-when-you’re-uncomfortable, make-excuses-for-other-people kind of people pleaser, then you probably spasm before saying no. Saying no is tough when you don’t like letting people down but saying no is critical for boundary holding. Learning how to kindly decline will not only save you from promising to be a part of things you don’t want to be a part of or committing to things you don’t want to do, but it will also restore some trust in yourself.
People who overcommit and overpromise are either terrible with their time or terrible with their time. The only tragedy is, time is the only thing in the world, we can never get back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You deserve lazy days, slow days, quiet days, open days, personal-nothing days - these days are not a waste of your time because they are days dedicated to nurturing you. Prioritize giving them to yourself because no one else will.