Overcoming Stress and Overcommitment
8.10.12

The other evening, I was at a party catching up with some pals. “I feel like you do so many things,” one marveled. I smiled and chuckled to myself at the irony.

To anyone on the outside – to anyone who asks the question “What do you do?” – it must seem like I have a whole lotta jobs. Here’s the thing, though: right now, I feel the most focused and the least over-committed that I ever have in my life. I am no longer squeezing in what I love to do between things I have to do. I am no longer giving my time and energy at the expense of my sanity. I no longer feel like I am carrying heavy panes of glass, treading so carefully and with such anxiety that everything could fall and shatter at any given moment.

Overcommitment, personal and professional alike, usually stems from wanting to do everything and be everything to everyone. We find ourselves in a mad dash to get it all done, give 100% and still come out on top. We end up feeling scattered, anxious and discontent. Every person and project only gets a fraction of our attention, and we are constantly nervous that something could go awry – that we might forget something, that we might not be doing it correctly. A question unearths itself from the depths of our consciousness: Am I Enough?

Just this morning, a dear friend of mine mentioned to me how much easier her life got once she let go of one of her jobs (yes, “jobs”, as in plural.) My friends are ambitious and many times have the same problem as I do, the problem of overcommitment. This job only occupied a few measly hours each week, but its omission gave her soul breathing room once again. Letting it go made her walk a bit taller, with a head that was a whole lot clearer.

If this job was something so very occasional, then why was it such a source of anxiety?

Because her heart was not fully in it. Because something was off.

Realizing that we are so much more than a title is key in breaking the pattern of overcommitment. We are constantly being asked by everyone, from grocery clerks to grandmas: What. Do. You. DO. So why do we answer with a noun? DO-ing denotes a verb. An action. So why do we confine ourselves to a simplified thing? We sell ourselves short, box ourselves in, and feel overextended should we add anything to our lives that is not included in our chosen noun’s definition. It’s enough to make Mr. Webster himself turn in his grave.

What I do – what helps tremendously – is what I call finding your through line. What is it that you are DO-ing? What is the one thing, the one goal, the one mission that permeates your every action?

Maybe it is connection. Maybe it is humor. Maybe it is individuality.

Maybe it is the act of giving back. Or healing.

My through line? My through line is Empowerment. Everything I do, every task I take on, every person I fill my life with – all falls under the “Empowerment” umbrella. I am part of The Chalkboard and Pressed Juicery team. I manage. I sing. I teach. I write. I run. Am I defined by any one of these things? No. What I feel defines me is the purpose behind each of these. I would never write something without passion or conviction. I would never take a role or a gig that did not make me feel wholly myself. I would never add anything to my life that did not jive with my ultimate goals of empowering others. No judgement. No censoring. Confident, commanding, courageous — that stuff we so often hesitate to show as part of our true colors. That is what I am about.

I no longer fear I will drop any one aspect of my life and shatter it to pieces. I have a firm grip on my Through Line and am unafraid to move full-speed ahead.

We cannot succeed if we do not love what we do – or if what we do does not fit into the big picture. My aforementioned friend? Everything she does is now everything she loves. This concept seems like a luxury – but really, it is not. We are all equipped with a through line; something we are wonderful at and are meant to give to the world. Once we find our through line and shift our actions to deliver that through line, success is inevitable.

Whatever success means to you. It is inevitable.

Full speed ahead.

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  1. I absolutely love this article and wholeheartedly agree with Katie’s message. I’m a full-time child & family therapist and part-time fitness instructor and people often ask me “how do you do it all?” or “when will you quit one of your jobs?” Despite being very busy, it rarely feels overwhelming because I truly love what I do and my “thread” is Motivation and Inspiration. Thank you so much for your insightful words!

    Kelly Ann | 08.10.2012 | Reply
    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Kelly Ann! It seems as if you have struck the perfect balance. Not only do your jobs both fit your “through line,” but they enhance one another as well. I am sure your profession as a therapist adds a dimension to your coaching that makes your classes super engaging and effective!

      Katie | 08.30.2012 | Reply

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