Lately I have been feeling a lot like the energizer bunny… just going and going and going.
In full transparency mode, over the past couple months I’ve picked up a very packed-to-the-brim schedule. Currently I’m working overtime (during our busiest season of the year!), am enrolled in a life coaching program, blogging several times per week in addition to developing this lovely website, as well as prepping for some MAJOR travel coming up soon this month. And that’s just the big stuff.
When I leave from my day job, the work day doesn’t end there. I go home and start on either school work or site work for the remainder of the day. My weekends are typically devoted to writing. And lately, it basically stops only when I go to sleep.
Obviously this means a lot of other activities that I love have taken a backseat (hello non-existent social life!!)
I’ve slipped into overwhelm more times than I can count over the past month and a half. I’ve been sleep-deprived and have pulled a couple all-nighters to meet deadlines, running on adrenaline and sheer determination. I’ve worked on more in the last several weeks than I thought was realistically possible and while this “Get it Done” energy mode has been quite creatively satisfying, I worried that I might be spreading myself too thin.
All of this has led to asking myself a lot of hard questions lately. Questions like “Do I actually want to keep going on like this? Should I let one (or more) of these commitments go?”
Am I doing far too much?
Now I am usually the queen of saying “no” and dropping pretty much whatever needs to be dropped in my life in order to create enough space for myself and adequate peace of mind. I have no problem with (lovingly!) passing on invites and opportunities. I’m a big advocate of freeing up time, doing less, getting to that place that feels open and free. So it shocked me when, as overworked as I’ve been lately, I wasn’t really itching to slow down. I’ve been going and going non-stop but when presented with the option of abandoning ship, I heartily declined.
This insane descent into workaholic mode surprised me so much that I consulted my mentor about it, totally conflicted about the choice I was making. I’m all for following desires but in this case, with this much work on my plate, shouldn’t I be trying to cut back? Isn’t that the healthiest thing to do? After all, there are just about a bazillion studies out there warning about the dangers of stress and working too much.
At what point do you stop and at what point do you persevere?
I’ll admit I was searching for some kind of external indicator, some clear sign that would let me know whether or not to stay on track. Like if you’ve done XYZ, that means it’s time for you to pull the plug. If you’ve done ABC, you’re still good to go!
In reality though, it’s just not that simple. We are all so different and what’s right for one person isn’t right for another. I know this is so true for anything diet-related but I seem to forget this sometimes when it comes to other aspects of life.
Which is basically what my mentor told me. She turned it around and asked what felt right for ME to do at this time. And by stopping to really reflect and consider this, I was reminded that the answer I was searching for, the only right answer, comes from within.
If you are feeling overworked and overburdened this holiday season and can relate to these conflicted feelings, read on, as I think the tips below could be super helpful! I know they really helped clarify a lot for me.
1. Trust YOUR Gut Instinct
— (not your friend’s or your partner’s or your therapist’s or that self-help article you read online)
Caught up in all my confusion, I was so concerned with what I “should” be doing and what was the healthiest (and sanest) thing for me to do work-wise. Dropping some projects from my busy plate seemed like it made the most sense. It was definitely what I figured most people would advise me to do.
What I came to realize is: screw being “sane”! Forget what you “should” be doing! Everyone and their grandmother will tell you what you should be doing (and their opinions will probably all differ!) If I had listened to what many other people in my life thought I should be doing, I’d probably still be working in the corporate world, slaving away at another mind-numbing job and feeling boxed into the 9-5.
Here’s the thing: other people can put their two cents in. They can give you advice and tell you what you should do. But YOU are the only one who lives your life. You have to live with the consequences of the actions you take and don’t take – nobody else does. So you want to be sure you’re making those big decisions based on what’s right for YOU, yeah?
2. Ask Yourself – Do I Feel Empowered or Disempowered?
I learned this little gem of a question in my coaching class. Most of the time I’d say we aren’t feeling 100% of either of these strong emotions — empowerment or disempowerment — we are most likely feeling somewhere in-between. But which one of these are you leaning towards MORE? That’s a clue. If the scale is tipping further into the disempowerment zone, that’s a sign you may want to change course.
3. Check In On Your Non-Negotiables and Whether These Are Getting Done
Whenever we’re super busy, we often get pushed to our limit; so many things that we prioritise end up falling to the wayside, including self-care habits. Which is why it’s so important to get clear on what our non-negotiables are and where exactly we draw the line.
What do I mean by non-negotiables? These are the things that you absolutely need to do in order for you to feel and function well. For example, my non-negotiables are eating good food (a majority that’s home-cooked) and doing a daily meditation (even if just for a few short minutes). These are the two things that I absolutely need to do on a regular basis. When I don’t keep up with these for a few days, I notice a significant drop in my overall energy and I just don’t feel good.
There are plenty of other things throughout my week that are important to me as well (some form of exercise is pretty high up there) but my non-negotiables are the deal-breakers. If I’m so busy that these needs aren’t being met, that’s where I draw my line and take a step back. And this really differs for everyone. One person can live off junk food during a hectic week and still thrive; for someone else, doing so would send her into a downward spiral and ultimately make it harder for her to get through the week.
Know yourself, what you can still do well on, what you cannot, and where you draw the line.
Considering these three points has helped me come to the conclusion that what’s right for me now is to continue on my “energizer bunny” path. This is what feels good to me, at least for the moment, even if it does simultaneously make me a bit crazy.
And like I mentioned in an earlier post, after coming off a long dry spell, it feels OH-SO-GOOD to unleash the creative forces again and burn through so much of that dormant energy. It feels great to be productive and utilizing talents + skills and this is an energy I definitely want to enjoy while it lasts. This has also reminded me of the importance of honouring where we’re at in the moment, whether we’re feeling called to work or rest, push forward or let go.
If you’re feeling unsure and questioning your current path, I invite you to take some time to stop and check in with yourself. We have all the answers within, if we can only just get quiet enough to listen and trust.