What We Lose By Overcommitting

Love your parents. We are so busy growing up, we often forget they are also growing old. – Unknown


My initial idea for this week’s blog post focused on the dangers of living an overscheduled, overcommitted, can’t-say-no life. And I speak from experience: I am the Queen of Busy.

So I sat down at my computer, fully prepared to provide a list of tips. Then I realized the Internet is filled with strategies to cope with the temptation to overcommit. These include learning to prioritize, letting go of meaningless guilt when you do say no to a request and improving your time management strategies. You don’t need me for that.

Instead, the above quote about our parents struck a chord with me, as it highlighted the bigger issue of what we LOSE by living an overcommitted life. A “crazy-busy” schedule, in addition to greatly contributing to worry, stress and anxiety, prevents us from appreciating the truly precious miracle of being alive.

One of the dangers of being so busy is that we forget how to live in the present. And by focusing on “doing” rather than “being” 24/7, we miss precious opportunities that make life meaningful.

For example, how many times to you wake up in the morning panicked by your jam-packed schedule that day: the deadlines, the meetings, the money issues, the relationship problems. The first thing on your mind is: How can I just get through this day in one piece?

And what are you missing? The chance to wake up and simply be GRATEFUL and THANKFUL that you woke up – to be present in the simple miracle that you are breathing and alive. According to 2012 statistics, 6,775 Americans EACH DAY will not be so lucky.

And being overcommitted takes you away from the things that truly matter, like spending real quality time AND BEING PRESENT with the people you love – your parents, your kids, your friends, your family members. Being present means eliminating all of the distractions in your life – from your electronics to your stress – and enjoying the moment.

Indeed, while you are busy living your life, your parents – if you are lucky enough to have them – aren’t getting any younger. Some day you won’t be able to call them on the phone, hang out at the dinner table, tell them about your day, share a photo or enjoy a joke together. And then you will realize what you missed by being overcommitted.

And some day YOU won’t be around. That is a fact. So what are you doing with your days to truly relish your short time on earth?

Even if you do find yourself overcommitted, make it a point to stop and appreciate the sun on your face, the taste of ice cream on a super hot day, the joy of your pet who missed you all day, the people in your life who make living so much sweeter.

Wake up in the morning grateful to be alive, and THEN worry about your day. Take a few minutes to call your parents, and THEN complete your deadline. Go play catch with your puppy or your toddler, and THEN answer your emails.

As John Lennon sang, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Don't take life for granted.