Why You Bite Off More Than You Can Chew & What to Do!

Over-committed. Bit off more than you can chew.

Over-committed? Do you find yourself taking on too much – biting off more than you can chew?

Me too! That was my norm: always taking on more and more. It left me feeling stressed, depleted, and resentful.

Remember the game Chubby Bunny where you keep putting more and more marshmallows into your mouth until you are no longer able to say “chubby bunny?” That’s what life felt like for me. I was stuffing my schedule with one weighty responsibility after another until I could barely breathe…literally!

Breathing room, margin, and joy were missing from my life!

Perhaps you’ve been there too. Maybe you are there right now. Or even worse, you’ve been too occupied to even realize that you’re over-committed and barely able to breathe.

Take a deep breath! Perhaps you recognize a few of these signs:

!5 Signs You've Bitten Off More Than You Can Chew!

Sadly, several signs on this list described me!

For me, getting stuff done feels good. The more I was able to get done, the better! So, taking on more is what I did! The problem is, it wasn’t sustainable.

When Lyme disease entered the picture, I suddenly wasn’t physically capable of keeping up with it all. The pace of life I once thrived on, or at least I thought I was thriving on, simply wasn’t possible.

With zero energy, I was forced to slow down, which allowed me time to reflect and to dig a little deeper into what was driving my ridiculous pace of life.

Silly as it sounds, taking on more and more was a way of proving that I mattered. In my mind it was all the doing that made me valuable, significant, and important.

Behind all the doing, fear was fueling my frenzied activity. Or to be even more specific, my Fear Monster was driving me.

Here are some reasons you might be biting off more than you can chew:

1. Fear – Especially Your Fear Monster

Your core fear might be “I don’t matter” like my Fear Monster. Or perhaps your core fear is “I am not enough,” “I am rejected” or “I am incompetent.” It just might be the root cause of your over-committing and striving behaviors.

Maybe it is the fear of being worthless, unlovable, invisible, or unimportant that’s motivating you to take on too much. The more you do, the more valuable, lovable, or seen you will be. You have your version of the story, but underneath it all, fear is the reason you are taking on too much!

In all the striving, whatever you are trying to avoid inevitably happens! The more I tried to prove that I mattered by taking on more and more responsibilities, the less and less time I had for the people closest to me – the very ones most dear to me! The less time I had for the activities I delighted in doing or that fueled my relationships. And when I did have a few spare minutes, I was too worn out and frazzled to do anything life-giving.

Slowing down with Lyme disease taught me that I matter even when I’m unable to do anything at all. And even more important, I matter immeasurably to the One who created me when I am just being! That was a life-changing realization! A realization that I hope you will arrive at minus the Lyme disease craziness!

2. Lack of Trust in God

When you feel like you are the one who has to make things happen, you will pursue a never-ending whirlwind of activity in order to get the results you desire. It’s exhausting! And if you are so caught up in doing it all, it leaves very little room for God to intervene on your behalf.

What has God asked you to do? Are you doing things that He has not asked you to do? What does God see as your priority in this season?

Be honest – in all the doing, is there room for God? Space for you to connect with Him? Space for Him to supernaturally show up and make up for your lack?

Being out of commission for two and a half years with Lyme disease forced me to switch up how I was doing life and work and to trust that God would make up for my lack. I simply was not able to do much and relied heavily on God to keep my businesses and life a float.

Now on the other side of Lyme disease, that lesson lingers and I continue to recognize my limits and trust God to show up in powerful ways in my life and work. And guess what – God’s been incredibly faithful!

3. Unable to Say “No”

Who wants to let an opportunity slip through your fingers? Disappoint people? Or miss out? Saying “NO!” is not always easy, but the one who pays the price when you don’t is YOU!

4. People Pleasing

Intellectually, you know it’s impossible to please everyone, but that doesn’t stop you from trying! If that’s something you are prone to, this post is for you.

5. Scarcity Mentality

When you believe there isn’t enough to go around, you will rush, hurry, and grab for what you can get. Scarcity mentality tricks you into thinking you’ll never get enough sleep, have enough money, enough clients, etc. And when you have that kind of thinking your vibe isn’t very appealing to those around you.

On the other hand, when you believe there is an abundance – plenty of time for getting enough sleep, more than enough money to be had, and no shortage of clients, it changes how you go about life and work! Believing there’s more than enough to go around also changes how you interact and people. Odds are good that they will be drawn to you.

6. Unrealistic About Time

Have you noticed how tasks take longer than anticipated? Home renovations, travel-time, even most 30-minute meals actually take more like 45 minutes to an hour to make.

It’s not surprising, then, that you underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete tasks or how much time a new role will requires. Somehow the tasks you aren’t able to get to now rarely come to mind when you are contemplating taking on something new! Less is always more!

How realistic are you about time?

Whatever your reason for over-stuffing your schedule, I encourage you to slow down and give yourself permission to…

Give Yourself Permission To...

The unspoken hope in today’s culture is that over extending yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially, etc., will lead to the good life. Nothing could be further from the truth!

I promise biting off more than you can chew never leads to the “good life!” Life gets good when you follow God’s leading and focus on what He has in mind for you to do in this season of life.

The very positive perk to having Lyme disease is that it taught me that slowing down, doing less (and getting better results), and including activities in my life that make my heart happy and bring me joy are good things. Very good things!

More than ever, I’m grateful for my health and that Lyme disease, is in my past. I’m also very grateful that those life lessons have stuck and that what I take on these days is not more than what I can chew!

What has you biting off more than you can chew?

This post was originally posted on 3/28/17. It has been updated especially for you!

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.


  1. Kent on March 29, 2017 at 9:32 am

    I get myself in trouble because my commitments allow me to stay in fellowship with people I value, but the commitments are overwhelming.

    • Marvae on March 29, 2017 at 9:50 am

      That is a tricky one Kent! I too value relationships and often responsibilities allow us to spend time with people we treasure and enjoy! Sometimes the cost is just too great, however, to continue the commitments. If the quality of those relationships is there, with some effort (and probably less than I am exerting in my commitment) I can make time for those relationships. If the relationships don’t survive – the relationships probably weren’t as amazing as I thought they were. That can be a hard realization to come to.

  2. Kent on March 29, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I do think there is a good bit of “people pleasing” involved as well.

    One thing I really liked in your article was your discussion of fear.

    I’ve been getting to name and know my chief fear these past few months and once you know the enemy, it’s easier to deal with.

    • Marvae on March 29, 2017 at 11:15 am

      I agree! Knowing the fear you are dealing with does make things easier!

  3. April on March 30, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Congratulations on 31 years of marriage!
    My word for this year is “empty”, and as a tangible-goals driven personality, the concept is helping me live with a different perspective toward my massive to-do lists. I’m not sure I’ll ever be at a place where I relax well if it isn’t productive in some measureable way (I paint to relax–which still results in a product), but I’m becoming more comfortable with God replacing my priorities with relationship-building pursuits. Your encouragement to “remember what is really important” says it all for when I sit down to plan my day. A daily challenge!

    • Marvae on March 30, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Thank you April! Delighted to hear that your One Word: empty, is helping you keep the most important things a priority! Have you noticed yourself being more present when you paint or engage in other activities to relax even if it is a “to do” task?

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