How to Avoid Committing to Too Much

This is a time of year when the daylight grows shorter, but our days seem to grow longer with to-do lists, errands, and responsibilities leading into the holidays. It’s important to take inventory of all the ways we are either buoyed or depleted by the tasks at hand. The word “no” becomes an ally if you allow for it. But there are also other measures you can take to try to stave off that feeling of being overwhelmed or burned out.

woman-calendarHere are some helpful things to consider.

Choose Wisely

Be selective and choose only those things that give you joy. Not only will you find that you are getting more done, but it will feel so much less draining than taking on the slavish tasks that you’ve done countless times in the past and often seem to go unappreciated.

Remap the way things have been done that make you feel as if you’re just going through the holiday motions. Create a new spin on how they are done that will bring you pleasure and satisfaction.

For instance, instead of making all the plans every night during the holidays, make sure everyone is given a night to plan a dinner or choose a place. Engage or enlist your partner and family in mixing things up and in lightening your load.

Overwhelm Comes from Overcommitting

It’s simple physics. You cannot be in two places at once. You cannot keep loading just one side of a dinghy or eventually it will list to one side and possibly sink.

Yes, consider yourself a very sturdy, reliable and durable dinghy. If you become overwhelmed and reach a tipping point, you may be dry docked, perhaps entirely decommissioned, and no longer much help to anyone.

So, try your best not to overcommit.

Do not take on more than you can comfortably get done without feeling your anxiety levels spike upward. Time management means very little if you’ve collapsed physically or emotionally from the weight and stress of all you’ve overpromised.


This is an absolute must if you are on the edge of feeling overcommitted or overwhelmed.

Line up your priorities in a way that work best for YOU, not others. You can still get it all done but do it in a way that suits your needs. Then, schedule any tasks or responsibilities you’ve taken on in accordance with how you rank or assign those needs.

Once you have your sequence settled, it will be much easier to knock things off one by one, without any outside influences, distractions or second guessing.

What You Do is Not Who You Are

There are tasks you may do out of a sense of tradition or assigned familial roles. This is fine if, year after year, it brings you fulfillment and satisfaction. However, if you begin to feel these are the tedious or thankless tasks that fall on you only because no one else is willing or capable, then you may have to speak up.

If you feel taken for granted, shunted or sequestered into a role you did not sign up for, then you are within your right to say so.

In addition to accommodating and enabling the people in your life who you love and support, you are allowed to express that you are SO much more than this

Final Thoughts

You take on so much in your role as wife, mother, breadwinner, girlfriend, or caregiver, but it’s important to create boundaries and set realistic expectations.

It’s equally important for you to periodically declare and demonstrate that you are and will continue to be so much more than any of those things.

Lisa Ryan

Lisa Ryan

Lisa Ryan is a relationship expert based in Westport, CT.

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