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6 Signs You Might be Overextending Yourself

6 Signs You Might be Overextending Yourself

“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.”  ~Raymond Hull

What does overextending yourself look like?  It resembles lunch on your lap, misplaced keys and wearing your shirt inside out.  It looks like an elastic band that’s about to snap, and you can already anticipate the sting.  Obviously, if you want to avoid the pain, it’s best you learn how to release the tension.

You need to hear this: if you’re being flung in every direction, then you’re not really following through on anything or doing anything particularly well.

Your internal foundation will be shaky;  health, money, relationships and work will eventually crack.  What’s even worse than that is the speed with which your life will fly by without enjoying all the simple moments, these moments which are your life.

We are all busy–relationships, kids, work and friends, and it’s good to be a go-getter, but when your Martha Stewart persona has been replaced with a frenzied Wile E Coyote, things are about to blow up.

Consider this scenario:  The shrill voice of your good friend booms through the phone complaining about the stress of planning their exotic European vacation.  Wait a second–what did she just say?  Did she just say she needs you watch their dog?  That’s right, the 120 pound Marley-and-Me replica; the one that chews, drools and tries to hump your sweet golden retriever.

The last ounce of energy has just been sucked out of you.

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Okay, stop right there!

It’s okay to admit that you can’t take this on right now.

If you agree to babysit the Marley-and-Me devil, you will resent your friend for it.  You will silently curse the nerve of her to drop this responsibility on you when you are in the middle of a major work project.  This is going to strain your relationship.

Your family will take the brunt of this decision.

How will you respond?  My bet is in two weeks time, you’ll be chasing Marley off your poor retriever with a broom.

We have a choice on how to respond to others’ demands. We are under no obligation.  Our first priority must be our own needs.

I know you want to be helpful and agreeable. You likely hate conflict and have no idea even how to say NO.  And I know that most of all, you don’t want to lose out on opportunities.

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If we don’t recognize and satisfy our own needs then we are no good to anyone else.  Like the elastic you will eventually snap.  And then you’ll be of no use to your kids, work or your friend’s dog.

If any of this sounds like you, then you need to make some changes.

1.  You spend time worrying about time.

This is the first clue. If you stress about even a five-minute change in schedule, jump right down to the solutions.  You are overextended.

2.  You eat on the go.

The last time you sat down for a proper meal was the family Thanksgiving dinner.  Really?

3.  You’re not getting enough sleep. 

You’re so tired that all you can think about is sleep, but ironically, you’re so busy that you don’t get enough sleep.  When you do blindly fall into bed at night, you wake up at the witching hour, compiling to-do lists while wrestling with your pillow.

That’s right, you’re starting to resemble a zombie.

4.  You don’t have time for friends, favors or hobbies. 

You haven’t seen your friends in months, haven’t had time to phone your siblings in weeks and can’t even remember the last time you did something spontaneous.

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If you’re starting to resent people asking for favors, it might be time to consider cutting back.

5.  Your Health.

Are you experiencing muscle tension, back aches or insomnia?  While these symptoms could be from a number of issues, overextending yourself will cause stress, which we all know is the big “silent killer.”

6.  Can’t handle changes.

You want, no, let me rephrase, you need everything to go exactly as planned, and it’s not going to go as planned.  One little shift and like a Jenga puzzle, it’s all going to come toppling down around you.

If you’ve crossed over into this muddy territory, you’ll need to consider making some changes.

You will need to write a list to assess what changes you can make.  I know you don’t have time for lists–that’s the problem, right?  Well consider taking a day off work, or wake up extra early tomorrow.

Start with outer changes. Maybe hire a housekeeper or a babysitter or maybe take a break from social engagements.  But along with outer changes, there are also some inner changes that will need to happen.

Let’s get back to a balanced life, shall we?

1.  Put you first.

Put your own needs above all others.  Much like in a plane, always put your mask on first; you are no good to anyone if you break down.

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You are a mother/father, wife/husband, sister/brother and friend, but these roles don’t define who you are.  Do you something you love once a week.  Even if its just curling up with a good book.

2.  Laugh.

Stop taking life so seriously.  No matter what’s happening, life will go on; stop causing yourself unneeded stress.

3.  Learn how to be assertive–say NO.

Helpful hints to saying “no” without causing a rift:

  • Tell them “maybe,” then take the proper time to think it over.
  • Be honest and explain that you can’t commit because you have previous priorities.
  • Soften the blow by saying, “I’d love to but…”
  • Give them a suggestion: “I’m not the best person to help you with that because…”

4.  Ignore Expectations.  

Accept that what others think you should do might not be what you want or need.  And that’s okay.  You need to learn that what other people love, like golf or skiing, you really don’t enjoy.  Don’t be afraid to be honest.  Lose your “shoulds” and realize that you don’t have to do anything.

5.  You’re not Perfect.

If you miss a spot on the bathroom floor, it’s okay.  Being perfect can replace any sense of fun with a nagging, soul-sucking, endless effort that never gets anything quite right. Stop obsessing; perfectionism will only leave you frustrated.

6.  Make yourself a realistic schedule.

Take a deep breath and focus on one task at a time.  Fully complete each task before moving onto the next.

So take care of yourself today.

Take time to:

  • breathe
  • meditate
  • read
  • contemplate
  • relax
  • think
  • laugh
  • dream
  • do something that will make YOU feel happy!

What items can you streamline in your life to make things smoother?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

More by this author

Tina Williamson

Writer and creator of Mindfulmazing

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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