Confessions of a Chronic Over-Doer (And What You Can Take Away From It)

jason theaker, the new pursuit, multi-tasking, life balance“To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.”
~ Mother Teresa

You may have noticed that it’s been a few weeks since publishing a post. I don’t think I’ve ever gone as long as this in-between hitting the “publish” button.

It’s not out of want; there are always so many things I’d like to write about and share. It’s really been a matter of bandwidth.

You see, I’m a chronic over-doer.

And before you throw down the minimalist/simple living hypocrite card, let me explain: I’m not off doing things of little importance like spending hours in front of the TV or computer screen. Nor have I been trolling the malls or other halls of material consumption. No, I’ve been busy contributing to the betterment of my family and community; leaving behind the screens and hitting the streets trying to change things in a positive way, one little step at a time. I have been walking the talk of community change.

From volunteering with Cub Scouts to coaching two Little League baseball teams; from getting our vegetable gardens ready for our biggest growing season ever to writing a new bi-weekly column on simple, sustainable living in my local newspaper; from being a husband and dad to my three young kids to… well, you get the picture. Couple that with a new role at work that loves to serve up hours of back-to-back meetings and after-hours keyboard punching and what I’m left with is little extra bandwidth to write here.

This Is Nothing New

I have always been that guy: First to raise his hand when the call for help goes out; first to step up when others stand down. I have always sensed so much need in the world — whether it was at home, in my community or farther away; so many problems both big and small in need of fixing.

But there comes a point where even doing good comes with a price to you as a person. A point where you’ve spread yourself so thin that in your zeal to accomplish those things in life that are most important to you, you cannibalize your own ability to thrive in a balanced way. You are unable to enjoy all the things that fuel your spirit and put your — as I like to call it — MoJo Meter in high gear.

I’ve been unable to spend as much time just relaxing with my family; less time outside soaking in Nature; fewer opportunities to spend time reading the great work of my friends such as Raam, Ali, Sandra, Lynn, Ingrid, Jennifer, Robin, Jeanie, Steven, Jaarko, Vanessa and being steadied by the wisdom of those like Leo, Joshua and Tammy. My first e-book, a collection of meditations and verse entitled “From This Earth”, has sat at the 75% complete point for weeks now. Daily meditation has been, well, not so daily of late.

Why Awareness is Only as Good as What You Do With It

So this leaves me at a critical juncture, reassessing my aspirations for change, my personal and professional goals, and everything else in-between. While I continue to look for ways to peel back (like shutting down my local community blog that I rarely plugged here) I also need to re-align my expectations for what I can reasonably accomplish and the opportunity cost of pursuing that over something else. The ills of the world will (unfortunately) continue to be there tomorrow and the day after that.

But I am only one person. And there are only twenty-four hours in a day. Positive change is not seeded within the infertile soil of burnout and fatigue. A community does not thrive when the spirit of its people is stifled and snuffed out.

Lessons to Learn From

This isn’t rocket science, but there are lessons to take away from this:

  • Putting yourself first is sometimes a necessary step to be able to work for others
  • We all need downtime to decompress and process the world around us so that we can be fresh when called upon
  • Bandwidth is finite; it is better to do fewer things well than many things not-so-well (everything cannot be a priority)
  • Patience is critical for success — even amidst all the ills and needs of the world
  • Sometimes you need to let others step up and answer the call
  • A subdued spirit weighs down your heart and capacity for compassion, love and peace

As I recalibrate my balance meter, I hope this finds all of you well amidst your own lives, enjoying the change of seasons and all the amazing things that come with it.

Be well,

Thanks for stopping by. While you’re here you might also enjoy these other posts:

[image: jasontheaker]

11 Responses to “Confessions of a Chronic Over-Doer (And What You Can Take Away From It)”
  1. Hi Bill,

    A very well articulated dilemma that we all face from time-to-time. I’m glad you are reassessing and realigning because we want you to feel nourished and nurtured too. These are important lessons you are taking away from your experience and it’s so kind of you to share them with us. Because almost all of us need these reminders too. I find I have to scale back my expectations radically and, at this point in my life, that’s OK. Take care!

  2. Bill Gerlach says:

    Sandra // As always, your words are supportive and comforting. In retrospect, it was not my intention to convey that I am the only person to face this kind of situation. On the contrary, I think many of us face such moments of clarity in our own journeys; writing this post was more about helping me and others find camaraderie in that. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing. I appreciate it greatly!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Bill, I’m amazed at how much you fit into your life. I am not a go-getter and have been tentatively exploring saying yes to more things that I would have automatically said no to before. It sounds like you have the opposite issue! It’s definitely not wrong to take time for yourself. I hope you find a way to do that.

  4. Ali Dark says:

    I know you’ll never stop feeling the needs of the world and those around you – but take comfort in the fact that your best benefit to the world is just being an example. People see your mojo at work in positive ways and that is very appealing to them on some level. If civilization is saved from doom or disaster it will be through you.

    In short, there’s no way you could quantify the good you’re doing :D . Realign and peel away.

  5. Bill Gerlach says:

    Thanks, Ali. Appreciate the support and kind words. We’re all doing our thing. Speaking of that, I LOVE what you’ve done with

  6. Lynn Fang says:

    It’s great that you recognize you need to re-evaluate. We all face this from time to time – we evolve as individuals, and we make the choice to focus on things that we believe in most strongly. And those beliefs evolve over time. I hope my email wasn’t too long! But I hope it at least partially inspired your re-evaluation. Best of luck in finding a more sustainable path. If you ever need help or support, I’m an email away. :)

  7. Bill Gerlach says:

    Lynn // You’re email was perfect. More than anything, I find it incredibly helpful to get impartial third-party perspectives on things, especially in situations where I’m obviously too close to the matter. What made me most excited though was the prospect of you taking that next step in your journey. Don’t give up on that!

  8. Andrea says:

    I love how you use the term bandwidth not as a rate of data transmission but rather as the use of energy – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I can *totally* relate to being a chronic over-doer. I over-commit myself all the time and am consistently disappointed with the quality of my work. Learning to say no – to those who ask things of me, and to myself when I get excited about starting a new project – is an important skill!

  9. Bill Gerlach says:

    Andrea // Thanks for stopping by and sharing. “Bandwidth” has always seemed to capture it for me because of the fact that it is finite and the more you slice it the lesser the overall performance of the whole — in this case, me (or you or anyone else). As you put it, learning to say “no” is an important skill, especially when there are so many worthy causes to support and help out with. It’s an ongoing journey and I’m confident that in time (and with practice!), the right balance can be achieved. Be well!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. [...] In Confessions of a Chronic Over-Doer at The New Pursuit, Bill Gerlach tells us how he recently arrived at his own critical juncture between busyness and space.  He shares the lessons he’s learned from being a chronic over-doer as he re-calibrates his balance meter.  He says: “But there comes a point where even doing good comes with a price to you as a person. A point where you’ve spread yourself so thin that in your zeal to accomplish those things in life that are most important to you, you cannibalize your own ability to thrive in a balanced way. You are unable to enjoy all the things that fuel your spirit and put your — as I like to call it — MoJo Meter in high gear.” [...]