Overcommitment causes crash and burn

Published 8:46 am Monday, October 1, 2012

Column: Something About Nothing

I am a wimp at commitment these days. Let me clarify that statement. I am committed to my marriage. I am committed to my family. I am committed to my business. I am committed to my writing. However, I am not committed to signing up for anything where I have to be at a certain time or a certain place on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

I was the queen of commitment for a long time. At least that is how I saw it. For almost 30 years in various places I either was in charge or taught Sunday school. I was the head of committees. I belonged to committees where I worked hard. Along with that I worked part time, I raised my family and I did what was expected of me. I enjoyed some of it, I was passionate about some of it and some it I did because it had to be done. I had meeting upon meeting and commitment upon commitment where I had to be somewhere at a certain time, at a certain place, day after day, week after week and month after month.

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I was the busy person and you know what they say about a busy person; ask a busy person to do something and it will get done.

You should also ask a busy person how tired they are. In my old age I realized that I could no longer be as committed as I once was. I gave myself permission to pick and choose, but that was after I crashed and burned.

There are reasons we are sometimes over committed. We want to be liked. We feel no one else can do the job as well as we can. It has to be done, or no one else will do it. We can’t say no. There is also the reason that by keeping so busy we can avoid our real lives and problems we may be having that we don’t want to face. Whatever the reason we may overextend ourselves.

I found that by being so busy I lost knowing some of what I love to do. I quit doing what I love to do because I didn’t have time for it. You could say I lost part of me.

I had a conversation recently with a friend. She taught Sunday school for over 20 years and now she has been saying no. She is taking the time to be able to spend Sundays away with her children and grandchildren. She had been very committed, but now she is committed to influencing her grandchildren’s lives. She is committed to helping others in a quieter, anonymous way. She isn’t out there for the public to see but everyday she touches someone’s life in an unforgettable way. She too was tired of the structured commitment.

We need volunteers, we need structured commitment but we also need those behind the scenes people that are tired of meetings that go nowhere. They are making a difference in this world one person at time and not feeling so overburdened and over committed.

A pastor once said to me when I had said no when it came to doing something in the church that I was very uncomfortable with: “Just what is it you do anymore?”

After I crashed and burned I realized that for me I cannot be a part of those structured meetings that have a weekly commitment. I watch as my friends go from cause to cause and meeting to meeting. They are absolutely making a difference but they are absolutely stressed. I don’t want to be stressed because I have over committed myself anymore.

When I get over burdened and over committed nothing that I do is done well. My commitment is pieced and it does no one any good.

When I was overcommitted I got angry, I was short with people and I didn’t like who I was. I also became the “do it my way or the highway” type of person.

Does that mean I am not passionate about causes? Absolutely not. It means I pick and choose the commitments that I make with conscious choice.

Yes, I have wimped out in my older age. The world is a stressful place. Perhaps because of some of the choices we make, the stress is of our own making? There is a difference between commitment and over commitment.

Which have you chosen? How do you feel about your choice?

“Once a man has made a commitment to a way of life, he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It’s something we call heart power. Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success.” — Vince Lombardi


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net. Her blog is www.justalittlefluff.com.