“A TOTAL commitment is paramount to reaching the ultimate performance,” says former AFL Buffalo Bills quarterback Thomas Flores. But there is one catch here: work commitments must be within your personal capacity to deal with them.

Beyond that, over-commitment can be detrimental to your mind, body and, of course, your work. You can easily get into the cycle of working hard to meet the expectations of others, and expecting others to care for your mind and body, and expecting your mind and body to take on more push.

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This series of work expectations can lead to an eventual breakdown in your mind and body. And who will tell you that you are no longer fit to work? The same people who expected you to work more than what you can give! That’s the sad outcome according to a recent study conducted by three Japanese researchers in a collaborative work between the Hyogo University of Health Sciences (HUHS) Department of Nursing (Kobe, Japan), Kanto Medical Center Clinical Psychiatry (Tokyo, Japan), Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry (Tokyo, Japan) and Juntendo University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry (Tokyo, Japan).

The study involved 1,382 clerical and technical support workers, with 58 percent of them being male.Team leader Maki Tei-Tominaga of HUHS reported in "Industrial Health" (July 2009 issue) that over-commitment has resulted most to anxiety (54.8 percent), followed by depression (44 percent), and irritability (34.8 percent). At the same time, effort gets weaker (27-32 percent) and the rewards gained turn out to be less than expected (21-28 percent).

“Over-commitment—defined as an exhaustive work-related coping style—is independently associated with vital exhaustion, which is associated with adverse health effects,” explains Tei-Tomianaga. These effects include psychosomatic symptoms and burnout.

The team also found out that people who are temperamentally anxious or depressive are very susceptible in developing over-commitment patterns. However, hyperthymic people—those who are warm, cheerful, over-optimistic, improvident and carried away by restless impulses—did not show adverse health effects caused by job stress (high effort and low rewards) and even with over-commitment.

William Holler has a wise advice you can think about: “You can do what you want to do, accomplish what you want to accomplish, attain any reasonable objective you may have in mind—not all of a sudden, perhaps not in one swift and sweeping act of achievement—but you can do it gradually, day by day and play by play, if you want to do it, if you work to do it, over a sufficiently long period of time.”

Needless to say, if you have a boss who does not understand this, take extra care. You might be setting up yourself to self-destruct.

(E-mail: zim_breakthroughs@yahoo.com; blog: http://breakthroughs.today.blogspot.com)