I like hanging plaques in my office that have words of wisdom on them. They remind me of what’s important in life and motivate me to pursue my personal mission. The other day, one of my newer plaques caught my eye. It was a particularly difficult day for focus. And I was chastising myself for not getting anything done. It said, “Let whatever you do today be enough.”
We live in demanding times. Life travels at the speed of your fastest piece of technology. If you’re like me, it can be exhausting trying to keep up. We demand a lot of ourselves and make unrealistic expectations. This can lead to a serious case of overreach. Overreach can turn quickly into burnout. Burnout is a serious health condition that can thwart everything you’ve worked for. Here are three steps you can take to minimize your exposure to excessive stress leading to burnout before it happens.
Know Your Limits
We all have different limits of performance and capability. Superheroes are rare among the population. The rest of the human race has a limit – a boundary that is impassable. Only you can answer the question of where this limit is for you. Know where your ceiling is located. It’s unrealistic to demand more than you can give.
Knowing your limit is easy for some people. Internally they know when enough is enough. For others who have difficulty identifying their limit, here are some indicators:
- Your brain seems to malfunction (fogginess, inability to concentrate, trouble with spatial awareness, memory problems, any changes in cognition, etc.);
- Sleep, health, or weight changes;
- Changes in your emotional health or state of mind.
Certain days may find you with limitless energy, motivation and production. Other days may be less accommodating. If your internal barometer is telling you that you’ve reached your day’s limit, pay attention. You have. Awareness is your best tool to predict overreach.
Promise Only What You Can Deliver
When you know your limits, respect them. Set your boundaries. And stick to them. Motivated people tend to believe that they can squeeze one or two more tasks into this or that timeslot. If you find that you are making mistakes, or not producing the quality you desire, step back and reassess your boundaries. Have you breached them?
Whatever you do today, it is enough. It is more than enough. If you feel you have entered the overreach zone, slack off some, or take the day off completely. Do something different. Indulge in a hobby or spend time with friends. Whatever rejuvenates you. If you try to push through overreach, you will just be sabotaging yourself. When we demand too much of ourselves, our output and health suffer. Honor yourself by allowing time for that rejuvenation.
Straddling the line between optimum performance and overreach is not that hard to do. Be aware of your indicators, appreciate your boundaries, and allow for rejuvenation (you deserve it). When you do, your straddle will become a smooth and confident walk.
Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson