all the doing….it’s becoming your undoing

First, let me tell you how amazing all these “Ask Me Anything” questions are!  Out of about 75 questions, I only go one that ruffled my feathers (and I won’t be sharing), and I think your questions will make for great future posts.  Future, being the important word.

Let me be honest here.

I’m run ragged.  Tired.  Irritable.  Sore.  And simply stressed to the limit.

Lately I’ve taken on too much.

I’ve noticed – it’s cyclical for me.  I’m the queen of saying yes, of taking on too much.  Then I CRACK.  Then I slow down for a about a split second.  And I feel great for having less on my plate.


I start comparing myself to others – to their busyness and their accomplishments….and their mess.  Then I slowly start adding to the list.

  • “Sure, I can do another show.  I’d be so bored if I didn’t.  Let me rope Travis into this one!” 
  • “I have that one hour open on Thursdays.  I can take another client.  Squeeze two in if I rearrange a few things.” 
  • “Henry should know how to add and subtract numbers 10 through 20.  We need to work on this.  Like NOW!”


We got chickens.  Add that to the list of things that would be nice, but we don’t need right now.

The truth is:

  • I SHOULDN’T have signed us up for Cinderella – we need to get moved into this dang house.
  • I DON’T need more clients – two hours of KidZone a day is enough for my children.
  • And I SHOULDN’T place undue pressure on this homeschooling thing – my brilliant son is only FOUR years old!

It all hit me last week like a ton of bricks.  The CRACK in the cycle, if you will.  And I sobbed on my poor husband’s shoulder for an hour.  And he was there, as he always is, to tell me that I needed to be doing less.  And that the things I DO should not define WHO I am. Repeat:


Then WHY?  WHY am I drawn to the busy? WHY?!?  I’ve already written like three posts with this same theme, yet I haven’t changed.  Maybe a little.  But not enough to stop myself from the crashing.  Last Friday’s post about resting our bodies was what many of you needed to hear.  I’ve already mastered that.  What I haven’t tackled is my need for rest in all the OTHER areas of my life.


Prayer is needed (and ongoing).  I fully trust that the crashing happens so that I come to rely on God more and more.  I obviously can’t do this myself.  But I have to CHOOSE to do less.  I have to choose that – no one else.  (These words just came to mind:  I need to rest FROM things and rest IN Him.)

After I finish a few obligations, this simply must be a season of rest* for me.

Because all of this DOING (going, striving, beating, racing) will be my UN-doing.

QUESTION:  Am I the only one who struggles with taking on too much?  Any tips on saying no more often?


*More on this to come.

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  1. Lindsey,

    I think you can see that you are most definitely not the only one who deals with this. I am the exact same way. I overcommit, then I stress, then I crack under the pressure, and no matter how hard it is, I get through it and take a deep breath. I tell myself that from now on I won’t add anything else to my to-do list and will just slowly tackle all that is on there. Then I get bored, sign up for something else, and the cycle begins again. It is so tough, but I am learning through all these exhausting episodes how to find balance in all areas of my life. Someday I hope things will eventually click but for now I will just keep on learning the hard way.

  2. There is a season for everything!!!! God lets us know our limitations….we often want to please man rather than HIM..and this is so hard because we visually see man and sometimes do not “see” HIM…But He is there gently nudging us to do His will, unlike the world beating our brains out to do it’s will!!!!! Listen to His voice Lindsay and you will not go wrong….disappoint man but do not disappoint your Heavenly Father!!!! HE knows
    BEST and His wishes for you are eternal!!!!

  3. Finally getting around to reading this friend. Obviously you know I have issues with this. Prayers, prayers, prayers. Maybe we just need some REST time together to make each other accountable. Goodness knows I need it. LOVE YA!
    And……. so excited for you and your house!

  4. NO you are not alone!!!! DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!!! Most important! I get it as I sit her trying to read blog posts from the middle of the week & have not even done my own stuff – I struggle with this too & not sure where it will lead for me BUT I have started taking a 10 minute walk a day no matter how behind I am!

    HUGE HUGS!!!!

  5. You are DEFINITELY not the only one with struggles that. Me and both my sisters (and my mom!) are the same way. I think it’s a very easy thing to fall into…especially when you have a kind heart and want to help everyone. Whenever I get into situations where I’m finding myself completely running ragged, I have to remind myself to treat myself with as much care as I do others. I often struggle with feeling selfish if I ever take time out for me…but then I have to realize that if I don’t do that, there will be no me left to help others! It’s equally as important to take care of yourself as it is everyone else in your life!

  6. NO, you are not the only one! And I wish I had tips. Maybe I could do it then, too. It’s hard to figure out, sometimes, where being strong ends and being stupid begins. Or constructive/destructive! Work in progress :)

  7. What makes it hard to say no sometimes is the fear of upsetting someone else. At least for me, I have to be ok with the fact that I might upset another person by saying no, but by saying no to them, I’m saying yes to spending more time with my almost 3 year old, or with my hard working hubby. You are saying Yes to your family, when you say no to others.

  8. you’re definitely NOT the only one who struggles with taking on too much. sometimes itz hard to say “no,” but the downtime is very much appreciate! itz hard to find balance in life and itz constantly a learning experience!

  9. yup, yup, yup, just posted this myself Monday and i’ll be darned if today I didn’t realize i’d overdone it since then and was more wiped than I’ve been in ages. But I am learning and being kind to myself about it :)

  10. You are definitely not the only one who struggles with this. I don’t buy into the whole astrology business too much, but I once read an article about Libras (I am one) that discussed the scale symbol. It said libras don’t typically have balance like that on a day to day basis, their idea of balance is running themselves so ragged and being go-go-go all the time until finally they absolutely and completely crash. And when they crash, they literally don’t do anything. The balance of two extremes. Anyway, that’s me! Haha. I cycle in and out of being busy too. I enjoy having a lot on my plate (I feel more productive that way) but after time, I start to resent being so busy. When that resentment kicks in is when I know I need to back off a bit from whatever it is. Then the cycle repeats. I’m in a resting groove this week and it’s felt fabulous.

  11. I struggled with this for a long time and ended up actually dreading so much of my life. Then I realized that I wanted to enjoy life and not dread the next thing and the next. Now I only do the things I really enjoy – it has made my life a much happier less stressed place to be. And, it took a long time to get to this point. I hope that you are able to truly enjoy your “season of rest.”

  12. Such an honest and relatable post, Lindsay.

    I’m reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and this post aligns well with what I read this morning (from March 3rds devotional): “I love you for who you are, not for what you do. Many voices vie for control of your mind especially when you sit in silence. You must learn to discern what is My voice and what is not.”

    Also, remember Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”

  13. Such a good post. I think also is the lie we have all been force fed that “we can have it all” Something always suffers and sadly it can be are most precious treasures are husbands and kids. I think we need to all be a voice of truth to shut the lie down and instead encourage each other as women that this parenting gig is one big important job. If we are blessed to be keepers of our homes and have supportive husbands then be encouraged because it is enough and maybe the world doesn’t honor it but He does. You are a special lady and let me be that voice of truth to you. There will always be opportunities for the other things, so don’t let the everyday demands keep you from your purpose. Remember your purpose in Him and rest in Him.


  14. I see this in myself and my clients. It is this NEED to always be BUSY and how this came about and when I have no clue, but it isn’t healthy for ourselves and those around us. For me, it’s important to take a step back, disconnect, focus on the simple things in life that bring you joy, and be grateful for what is right in front of you. Learn and embrace doing nothing, when it is possible and learn to enjoy it. :)

  15. I’m right there with you – I constantly struggle with taking on too much and always needing to feel busy busy busy. I feel like I’ve written about it a million times too but it’s a process and a journey. I think that recognizing it is a huge step and maybe it’s just baby steps along the way so that we can start to feel more comfortable with just being in our lives rather than being busy in our lives.

  16. Saying NO is good for the soul and for sanity <3 I was always such a people pleaser and had a hard time saying no, but have learned that it is ok too and I am not a bad person for it! You have to do what is best for you and you can't always do it all, that is ok!!

    Love you!

  17. I am right there with you right now, and have been struggling hard this week. I like what you said at the end there – “I must rest from things and rest in Him.” I think that’s really the only place to start trying to do less. I’ve tried everything else.

    I get trapped in the comparison game sometimes, too, but for me my choice to stay overly busy feels like it’s part of my nature. I think for me a lot of it comes down to being afraid of change and afraid of a break in my habits. Definitely a work in progress and I look forward to seeing how you tackle the issue.

  18. Thank you for being so honest & transparent–as I think a lot of us struggle with this.

    I think I’ve gotten better at saying no over the years–especially because I really don’t see my husband a ton already as it is. I think for me it was simply a “what is MOST important” chat with myself & God. And then actually SAYING & DOING the no. it’s tough, yes, really tough, but I’ve come to appreciate those quiet moments & not having a completely packed calendar so so much. xo

  19. I am struggling with the same thing and today especially, I feel that “crack” coming. It ususally results in taking not-so-good care of myself. Eating junk I shouldn’t and then feeing worse. Vicious cycle.

  20. Definitely been there! My husband and I both like to say YES, so we are continually praying for and reminding one another that saying NO is a good thing sometimes. We are getting much better at it, and I’m so glad we have each other to hold accountable to it. Praying for you!

  21. You are not alone…I think this is a worldwide problem that is getting worse everyday and I do believe that God will use it to bring us closer to Him. Keep leaning on Him, relax and I know (and I know you do too) that everything will work out and He will guide you every step of the way.

  22. I hear you, Lindsay. I am a chronic plate loader. So much so lately, that I experience a middle of the night panic attack a couple of months back. While there’s not much I can do to lighten the load right now, once some current commitments are over, I’m going to work hard NOT to fill the space up with new ones. I miss my daily knitting too much!

  23. I have been through similar challenges, and have learned that I really need to SLOW DOWN. One thing I noticed was it was helpful to take a few cues from those around me that were good at taking a break and having a healthy balance of being busy and taking a break. Focusing on that instead of trying to keep up with those that were more similar to me (or even worse!) allowed me to see the benefits of not running myself into the ground.

    P.S. Love Travis’ comment. lol.

  24. You are absolutely not alone! My plate is overflowing right now and while I’m so grateful to have so many exciting things happening, some very important things in my life are starting to slip because I haven’t been able to juggle it all. I definitely struggle with comparing myself to others too, especially since I don’t have children so I feel like I should have THAT MUCH MORE TIME. The truth is though, I’ve filled that spare time up with other things already and I shouldn’t compare myself to anyone. Thanks for posting this, I needed it.

  25. Hi! My friend Athena sent me to your post, as she and I often talk together about these same issues. We take on TOO MUCH! But it’s so hard not to, because I like being busy and I hate saying no and I like being that person that everyone says “Wow, Monique. I don’t know how you do it! you’re crazy for working a full time job, teaching 4-6 classes a week, blogging, and doing things with friends”… yup, you’re right, I am crazy. And, like you, it takes me until I get to that CRACK (hitting the brick wall, as my mom always tells me), to realize that I need to SLOW DOWN. And, again like you, slowing down is easy to do at the time of the crack, but as soon as things lighten up and you start to feel “normal” again, you think you can add more on. Ugh. It’s a never ending, vicious cycle that I fear I’ll never fully get over. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  26. Hi Lindsay,
    As a fellow overcommitter, all I can say is: “I hear you.” I don’t have children, but every week I try to juggle:
    -a full time job in staff development/worksite wellness
    -part time group ex instructing / group ex coordinating
    -part time personal training

    Nevermind the rest of my life — my boyfriend, social life, friends, family, cleaning, oh and where is time for ME?!

    I definitely understand, and I think just recognizing there is an issue is a huge step. The biggest piece of advice I have is to cut back… SLOWLY. Don’t try to make 324793287 changes at once. Do it one at a time. Just like we tell clients to only tackle one thing, or try and make smaller, more measurable changes… the same concept can apply here.

    I hope getting this out helped comfort you a little!

  27. Have you seen Across the Universe? Because this post made me think of this line from it:

    Max’s Father: Goddammit, Max! Get serious, for once! What are you going to DO with your life?
    Max: Why is it always what will I do? “What will he do”, “What will he do,” “Oh, my god what will he do”, Do, do, do, do, do. Why isn’t the issue here who I am?
    Uncle Teddy: Because, Maxwell, what you do defines who you are.
    Max: No, Uncle Teddy. Who you are defines what you do. Right Jude?
    Jude: Well, surely it’s not what you do, but the, uh… the way that you do it.

  28. I tend to say yes to everything as well. I know I shouldn’t, I get too much going on and feel like I can’t get it all done. AND its even harder when a lot of the things I say YES too, are located in Franklin (a 40 minute drive from my house in the Whee.) A couple years ago, I decided that I would start saying NO. It has been hard, and I don’t always say NO when I really should. The way I’ve looked at it in the past, is if someone has asked me to help/volunteer/do something, it is because they feel that I would be good at it, etc. But I’ve kinda had a different take on that of late. Yes a person may ask because they feel I would be good at getting the task done. But after I set my naivety aside, I can see where sometimes I am being asked to do something because the person knows I will get the job done and that I will say YES. I’ve learned that when someone realizes that I will always say yes regardless of what’s going on, they will continue to ask. Not that it is a bad thing, but at the same time, its not fair to me. As horrible as it sounds, saying NO and then seeing the reaction that I get, sometimes is quite comical. (does that make me a bad person????) I have felt a lot better knowing that I can say no when I know I cannot take on something else. I know what you are talking about…I totally get it.

    1. It’s funny how you mention it’s comical sometimes but really it is. I work 2 jobs that average 36-60hrs/week, have 2 kids (3yrs & 5yrs) and of course my hubby and sometimes in addition to my regular work I get asked to teach continuing education classes. I dont mind and sometimes enjoy the challange but recently I had agreed to one lecture that was an hour drive one way, and was a 3.5 hour lecture in addition to my 60hr work week. I then was asked 5 days before hand to add a seperate 4hr lecture in the same place on the following day (my only day off in the week and I hadn’t ever even seen the lecture material and would have practically no time to review it before teaching it). I thought about it and thought about it (because I have the same problem it seems Lindsay and all you other fine folks have about saying “no”) and I just felt there was no way I could do it, but I even kept asking my co-workers if it was so wrong of me to say no (as the reason behind them asking me in the first place was that there was a last minute cancellation on someone elses part causing them to not be able to teach in the first place) and of course they said I would be crazy to try to teach it. So when I texted the guy back coordinating the lectures and said “hey, I really hate to say no but I just can’t fit it in on such short notice” he responded back “I don’t blame you, it’s a tough lecture and I wouldn’t do it either” lol!! REALLY!!!! All this fret and he wouldn’t have even done it himself!!! I firmly believe it was because he knew I was usually a “yes” woman that he even asked but it was nice to learn it truly is ok to say “NO”!! I still have a problem saying no a lot of times but I am learning that I don’t really mind as much now when I have to say NO, I’m just sure to say no and leave it at that. Decision made, don’t rethink it, and then I don’t even feel like I missed out on anything :) Good luck everybody! Definitely not east!!

  29. Maybe I’ve become more selfish as I’ve gotten older, but I’m really good at saying “No” now…even more so than I used to be. I think I was so focused on pleasing people I didn’t recognize what I really wanted. However, that’s not to say I am balanced, because I let other things come in and get in the way of my rest, of my sanity, of ME.

    No solution here. Just understanding.

  30. I’ve gotten really good at saying no during the last few months. I actually asked my bible study to pray that I would be able to back off my schedule and be okay about it. It worked! I am so much less stressed and hurried than I’ve been in ages. It feels so good. I hope it sticks. :-) I’ll be saying that same prayer for you!

  31. I am so guilty of this! I’ve taken on WAY too much and quite frankly, I’m warn out! Not to mention the fact that I’m not focused on ANYTHING! Which only sets me up for exhaustion and failure! I’ve laid off of blogging lately because I really just don’t have the time to sit down and right anything worth while. Not that it really matters other than it’s something that I just enjoy doing. My husband and I are heading to Charlotte this weekend for a convention for him (he’s an artist) which means I’ve traveled 4 weekends in a row! By the time I get laundry done, food bought and packed for the trips and what work I can get done…done, I’m already 2 days behind and beyond frustrated! After this weekend (not including the 4 hour drive to and from Chattanooga on Wednesday to pick up my kids-which I miss so desperately) I will be done traveling for at least a few weeks!

    I hope you find some peace soon Lindsay!

  32. yes, been there. HEnce why we escaped to New Zealand last year. Sabbatical. PLus my husband said he wanted his wife back. Health wise too! I’m learning to NOT go back to that place. Trying to say no more and be okay will stillness.

    hugs and prayers friend.

  33. Hang in there! Admitting you’ve taken on too much is a huge accomplishment. I do the exact same thing from time to time & get to my breaking point. It’s hard when we strive for such perfection. Just remember that your ultimate happiness lies in what you do for yourself & your family, that helps me prioritize. :)

  34. I struggle with taking on too much as well. You are NOT alone! To me the pull to be busy and take on so much is that there is so much out there to be done. God gave us this amazing world, special people in our lives, gifts we can share, etc. I want to see those people as much as I can. Share my gifts as much as I can. Experience as much of this life and this world as I can before I go home to him. There needs to be a balance, of course. But busy can be beautiful.