How to prevent overcommitting: a guide for Gen Z and Millennials

Hey there friends! I’m Jyme, your friendly certified coach and today, we’re diving deep into the topic of overcommitting. 

In today’s fast-paced world, where economic uncertainties, soaring living costs, and the pressures of the modern workforce weigh heavily on the shoulders of Gen Z and Millennials, the art of balance has become more elusive than ever. 

Deloitte’s latest study, released in 2023, provides valuable insights into this concerning realty. Their research reveals that stress is a common companion for both generations, with Gen Z leading the way at a whopping 46% reporting frequent stress, while Millennials aren’t far behind at 39%. 

Both Millennials and Gen Z have turned to side hustles and extra overtime to escape the paycheck to paycheck cycle. They yearn for work-life balance but often feel like they’re sinking in quicksand while juggling the need for financial stability, autonomy, and mental well-being. The result? Increasing stress levels. 

My goal is to guide you through evidenced-based strategies to ease stress and navigate the tricky terrain of overcommitment. So, stick around as we uncover ways to discover a healthier, more sustainable balance in your life. Ready? Let’s dive in! 

Understanding the overcommitment trap

Balancing ambitions and realities

Both Gen Z and Millennials are known for their ambition and drive. They have big dreams and high aspirations, but these very qualities can sometimes lead to overcommitment. The desire to succeed, coupled with external pressures like economic uncertainties and competitive job markets, often pushes them to take on more than they can handle.

As a result, they find themselves juggling multiple commitments, from work and side hustles to social activities and personal goals. This constant juggling act can quickly become overwhelming, leaving little room for self-care and relaxation.

The art of saying “no”

  1. Assess your priorities

When it comes to preventing overcommitment, the first step is to take a moment and assess your priorities. What truly matters to you? What are your goals and aspirations? By identifying your priorities, you empower yourself to confidently decline commitments that do not align with your overarching vision.  

Saying ‘no’ can be challenging, mainly because it goes against our natural inclination to cooperate with others.  In the article, 6 Tips to Politely Say ‘No,’  Vaness Van Edwards highlights that our genes  and evolution have hard wired us for cooperation. We’re designed to place others’ needs ahead of our own, and our desire for social acceptance and fear of disappointing others often lead us to say ‘yes,’ even when it’s not in our best interest. 

So, saying ‘no’ effectively becomes a practiced art, and the clearer you are about your priorities, the easier it becomes to gracefully turn down offers that don’t align with your goals. 

  1. Practice assertive communication

Assertiveness is a key skill in preventing overcommitment. It’s about expressing your needs and opinions confidently while respecting the boundaries of others. When faced with additional commitments, it’s essential to communicate assertively.

For example, if someone offers you a new project or task, you can respond by saying, “Thank you for considering me for this opportunity. I genuinely appreciate it! However, after reviewing my current workload, I need to decline this time to focus on my existing projects. I’m open to collaborating in the future.”

Remember, being assertive is not about being rude; it’s about setting healthy boundaries.

Prioritizing self-care

  1. Embrace self-care

When it comes to preventing overcommitment, self-care is your anchor. 

But it’s not about getting caught up in commercialized trends like luxury spa treatments, fad diets, pricey skin care, or high-tech fitness gadgets. 

Instead, it’s about prioritizing activities that genuinely recharge your spirit. Think exercise, a good night’s sleep, keeping hydrated, practicing mindfulness, and jotting down your thoughts in a journal – these are simple yet effective forms of self-care.

Steer clear of the consumerism-driven self-care trap, which may lead to more stress than relaxation. Instead, focus on nurturing your well-being through daily, intangible acts of self-care that truly make a difference. 

  1. Set realistic goals

While aiming high is admirable, it’s essential to set realistic, achievable goals. Pursuing too many goals simultaneously can spread you too thin, leading to frustration and exhaustion.

James Clear perfectly outlines this concept by referring to the “Four Burner Theory” – just like a stove with four burners, you can’t have all burners on high at the same time. Focus on one goal at a time, and create a specific plan for achieving it. 

Make sure that your present objectives match your current circumstances to ensure a sense of progress and achievement. 

While aspiring to retire in Greece is admirable, it might be a long-term goal that feels distant and could potentially dampen your motivation.  

Time management and boundaries

  1. Manage your time wisely

Mastering the art of time management is a cornerstone in the fight against overcommitment. 

You can employ effective techniques like the Pomodoro Technique, where you set intervals and take regular breaks, or simply create daily to-do lists to enhance your productivity and maximize your limited hours. Whether you use an old school kitchen timer, your trusty phone’s timer, or opt for a dedicated app, the principle remains the same: break up your day to maintain focus.  

When you manage your time skillfully, you can allocate more time to what truly matters and avoid spreading yourself too thin.

  1. Establish clear boundaries

Addressing boundaries is a bit of a challenge for me. I hate boundaries –  only because I am not very good at it. However, boundaries are essential if you want to protect your well-being and prevent overcommitment. 

Setting clear limits on the time and energy you can allocate to commitments is crucial. It’s equally important to communicate these boundaries kindly with others to ensure everyone understands your availability. 

For instance, if your family member continues to drop by unannounced, you can handle it by saying, “Hey, it’s great to see you! Just a quick thing – I value our time together, but I’ve been sticking to a routine lately. Would it be possible to let me know in advance next time you plan to visit?”

Seek support and learn from experience

  1. Seek advice from mentors

Connecting with mentors or experienced individuals can provide valuable guidance on balancing commitments. They can share their own experiences and offer invaluable insights to navigate the challenges of overcommitment. 

However, it’s crucial to select a mentor who aligns with your core values and is capable of providing candid feedback. Ensure they possess expertise in the areas where you seek guidance and that the mentorship relationship is built on principles of reciprocity and respect.  

  1. Learn from overcommitment

Drawing wisdom from J.R.R. Tolkien’s profound words, “The burned hand teaches best. After that, advice about fire goes to the heart,” we’re reminded of the profound truth that personal experiences often yield the most valuable lessons. 

Most of us inevitably learn the hard way, navigating the terrain of overcommitment and grappling with the consequences it entails. It is in these moments that we discover invaluable opportunities to enhance our ability to assess opportunities and respectfully decline when necessary. 

The key takeaway here is to embrace these lessons earnestly. By doing so, we can refine our goals, alleviate stress, and usher well-being into our lives. 

The bottom line, according to Jyme,

Balancing ambition and avoiding overcommitment takes skill and persistence. 

Remember, saying “no” is not a missed opportunity but a strategic choice to safeguard well-being and excel in chosen commitments. Achieving balance fosters personal and professional growth, while nurturing healthier relationships. 

For more insightful content and tools to help you navigate the twists and turns of life, check out my website and my blog for weekly updates. 

Stay curious, stay resilient, and keep moving forward!