Too Many Commitments? Here’s How to Start Letting Go.
Are you overloaded with obligations, tasks or activities that take up all your time and energy but don’t pay the bills or provide for your family? That was my situation some years ago.
At that time I yearned to build a new career for myself, yet I just could not see how to make it happen.
My life was already jam-packed.
I had a life full of activities that interested me. I was committed to all sorts of meetings, to my daughter & school, various groups, and volunteering. There were my art classes, which were a social occasion as well as for creating. I wanted to continue my part-time job, the upkeep of various websites I had taken on, and regular committee meetings that involved organizing exhibitions. I just could not see how to progress.
My time and energy, and the sheer numbers of hours in the day and days in the week were all used up.
If I stayed the way I was, I was well and truly stuck.
How did this come about?
Some of it came from others making requests of me, some I believe was led by interest and wanting to be a part of something, to belong. Opportunities would come up in my life, and I would say YES, just because I was interested, and if the truth were known, a little flattered to have been asked. Equally, I think I needed to prove myself somehow – like I can take all this stuff on and do an excellent job of it. I did want to find ways to contribute and to feel I was helping others by doing so. Some commitments were led by a love of learning and gave me a sense of moving forwards in my personal development. I increased my knowledge and built what I considered valuable transferable skills.
Yet however fascinating these were, they were not going to bring me the level of satisfaction I believed I would gain from pursuing a potential new career. I needed to find or create time for this somehow.
Talking to a coach was my turning point.
It took speaking to a coach who asked me what I could do without, to realize that I had to take something away to begin the new and shiny thing I wanted in my life, which mattered so much to me.
What happened? At first, I resisted and fought against the idea of letting anything go. I desperately wanted there to be a magical way to have it all. But then she coached me to put everything down on a piece of paper, every single commitment I had, and just look at it.
“I understand you’re enjoying all of these, and also that you are gaining something from each of them. If there was one that you could do without, which would it be?” She asked me.
I began to see the bigger picture.
As I looked at those words on the page, I plainly saw the amount of time each commitment took up, and where each might take me. The muddy water seemed to be clearing, and a pattern began to appear.
I knew building a new life for myself would require pulling back from giving so much time to others, and using that time to re-train for a new, rewarding career. I could continue living overcommitted and underpaid, or I could start saying no to others in the short term, so I could say yes to myself longer term.
I started to make changes.
I began to find ways to discontinue the activities which took all my time and attention, one by one, honourably, and over a period. By gradually reducing my obligations, I created the space for something new. A new career beckoned on the horizon. I took the invitation, and to date, I haven’t looked back.
If you’re overwhelmed by too many commitments to others, here’s what to do:
- Recognise that if you keep on saying YES to everything that comes along, you will reach a point when you cannot take on any more.
- Determine what or who you can say NO to, so you can say YES to yourself.
- Write down every commitment you have on one piece of paper, so you can see the big picture more clearly.
- Begin by choosing just one commitment to let go of. Then as you build up your “letting go“ muscle, see if you can find other commitments that would benefit you by being brought to a conclusion.
Finally, allow yourself to let go of what isn’t going to serve you long-term and create the space for what’s really important to you now.
Anna Schlapp, AACC, ACC, is a certified ADHD coach who specialises in creative solutions to triumph over the hurdles of ADHD. Anna helps those with challenges like over-commitment and overwhelm to understand what’s holding them back, and then co-create personalised blueprints for leading more amazing lives. Read more of Anna’s strategies for empowered productivity on her blog. To find out how Anna’s unique system can help you maximise your potential, ask about a complimentary coaching session.