How to stop overcommitting and still get what you want …

May 1, 2023

As the release of Calling Bullsh*t on Busy is approaching (May 16), I thought we could talk about the tricky business of overcommitting and people-pleasing.

Let's be real—it's easy to fall into these habits, especially when we're trying to be helpful and kind. But the truth is, both behaviors can bring serious consequences with them for us and the people we’re trying to help.

So to start, let's define these terms. 

Overcommitting is when we take on more tasks or responsibilities than we can realistically handle. 

People pleasing, on the other hand, is the tendency to prioritize others' needs and desires over our own, often to the point of sacrificing our own well-being.

These two behaviors are closely related, and they can both affect our mental and physical health. 

When we overcommit, we can become stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. We may find ourselves constantly rushing from one task to another, never feeling like we have a moment to ourselves. 

And when we're people pleasers, we may feel resentful and frustrated when others don't appreciate our efforts or reciprocate our kindness.

So how can we break free from these patterns? Here are a few strategies to consider:

1. Learn to say no. 

I know it can sting if you’re always used to saying yes. But this is probably the most important skill to develop if you're prone to overcommitting and people-pleasing. Practice saying "no" to requests or invitations that don't align with your priorities or values. Remember that you don't have to justify your decision or apologize for it.

2. Prioritize self-care. 

When we're busy taking care of others, it's easy to neglect our own needs. But self-care is essential for our well-being. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

3. Set boundaries. 

Boundaries are the limits we set around our time, energy, and resources. They help us protect our priorities and prevent us from being taken advantage of. Consider setting boundaries around your work hours, social commitments, and other areas of your life where you feel overextended.

4. Practice self-awareness. 

Overcommitting and people-pleasing can be deeply ingrained habits, so it's important to be mindful of when you're engaging in these behaviors. Take note of how you feel when you say yes to a request, or when you find yourself bending over backwards to please someone. Are you feeling stressed or anxious? Are you neglecting your own needs?

I know this isn't always easy. It can be hard to say no, especially when we don't want to disappoint anyone. And it can be even harder to set boundaries when we feel like we're letting people down.

But trust me when I say this: it's worth it. When we take care of ourselves, we're better able to take care of the people and things we care about. We're more patient, more present, and more effective.

So, like they say on airplanes: put on your oxygen mask first. 

It might sound selfish, but taking care of ourselves is essential for taking care of others. We need to prioritize our own well-being if we want to be our best selves for the people we care about.

And remember, it's okay to prioritize our own needs and desires. We don't always have to say yes, and we don't always have to please everyone. When we learn to prioritize our own well-being and set healthy boundaries, we can live more fulfilling and satisfying lives.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at some of the other 8 Deadly Time Thieves™ I write about in Calling Bullsh*t on Busy.

And next week, we’ve got a big announcement about several Masterclasses we’ll be offering over the summer to address these times thieves so you can regain 4–10 hours every week.

In the meantime, here’s to more love and less stuff!


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Declutter Your Life Podcast by Andrew Mellen. Available on iTunes!