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Are you a “Chronic Over-Committer”?

By Christine Watkins, MA, ACC


Do you often say “Yes” not only when you mean “No” but even when you may mean “Maybe”?

Do you often find yourself resentful and frustrated by your overloaded calendar?  Not only at work or during the work day, but after work and on weekends?

Do you find yourself not enjoying the things you love because you’re too tired from doing the things you’ve committed to that weren’t even enjoyable?

If you said yes to any of these, you may be what I call a “Chronic Over-Committer”.

Chronic Over-Committers

Chronic Over-Committers have one thing in common:  They struggle with setting boundaries. We’ve all done it.  We say “Yes” and then regret it.  Sometimes we cancel on others at the last minute with a phony excuse or sometimes we follow through with our commitment but our presence is riddled with regret or resentment.

However, if this is a reoccurring theme or pattern you see in yourself, you probably struggle with over committing. The good news is there are strategies that you can utilize to make subtle and healthy changes.

Dr. Brene Brown, a social scientist and grounded theory researcher who has written several international best-selling books, describes the most generous people as people who are able to set healthy boundaries and stand in their integrity.  In her latest book, Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution., she uses the acronym Living BIG as a tool to address issues of over-committing.  BIG stands for Boundaries, Integrity, and Generosity.  Dr. Brown writes that setting boundaries means getting clear on your priorities and what behaviors are okay and what’s not okay.  It’s hard to set a boundary if you are not clear about what is important to you and what you would rather not invite into your life.  Integrity is key to the commitment because it’s attaches those boundaries to respecting the values of who we are and how we want show up in the world.  When boundaries are set and we are able to stand in integrity, we are more apt to be generous with ourselves and with those around us.

Sounds easy, right?  Perhaps not.

Here are four strategies that can be used to help curb your chronic over-committing habits:

1. Chronic Over-Committers are typically quick to respond to an offer. Remember you are allowed to take time to weigh your options!  It’s perfectly acceptable to say that you need a bit of time to check your schedule, consult with your colleagues, or take a look at your family’s plans.  Let the other person know that you will get back with them with an answer and then do just that.  This response may take some time to get used to and may feel uncomfortable at first.  However, with a bit of practice, it will get easier.

2.  When you look at what has been offered to you, remember to consider the time before and after the commitment.  Chronic Over-Committers oftentimes don’t take into consideration the amount of time an actual project, event or commitment will take.  There are always setbacks or events that go over time.  That PowerPoint you put together will indeed take longer than expected and there will definitely be shopping and prep time for that side dish that you thought would be quick to make.  Considering the additional time may help you make a healthier decision.

3. Let go of your fear that by declining an offer will offend or hurt the other person. Let. It. Go.  By explaining that you are fully booked or that you need a little more down time in your calendar to feel less stressed, you are actually modeling for others how to set boundaries.  Remember, you are not the only one who struggles with this skill.  Others may be more positively impacted by your ability to say, “No, thank you” than by your habit of begrudgingly saying “Yes” or cancelling in the last minute.

4. Remember that living BIG takes practice. So, practice, practice, practice!  While saying to someone else that you are going to decline their offer (whether it’s professional or personal) may feel excruciating at first, remember that it will feel less painful or awkward the next time and follow through.  By doing this, you are committing to your own health and well-being so that you are able to live BIG instead of living small and completely over-committed.

Upcoming Sessions

If this resonates with you, and you’re in the Denver area, consider attending the Business Owner’s Bootcamp on October 13 to hear Christine Watkins Davies present a breakout session on Rising Strong: Personal & Organizational Resiliency

Based on the research of Dr. Brene Brown, the physics of vulnerability show that if we are brave often enough… we will fail.  This session will provide ways to create and use tools that help individuals and teams during times of struggle or failure.  Utilizing these skills will help you write a courageous new ending to your story.

>> Register now