I used to think very differently to this – ask any of my training partners, coaches, or even work colleagues and bosses for that matter. More ruled my life for longer than I care to admit, and it’s gotten me into a pickle way more often than I’ll likely ever admit!
But thanks to my experience last week–and the never-ending patience of my personal development coach–I finally see the error of my ways. Let me unpack this for you, and perhaps it might help you out of the same pickle – if you’re also of the More is Better school of thought.
Doing more always signaled to me that I was working harder, I was achieving, I was accomplishing goals, I was progressing, I was GETTING STUFF DONE! And I was successful – for a while. It worked for me – until it didn’t. Constantly pushing myself to do more, be more, achieve more was quite frankly, really exhausting; and compounded over a decade-long professional career and triathlon participation, it was bound to come to a crashing halt. Which it inevitably did last week.
Now, I’ll preface this by saying this was months in the making, and I had been ignoring the subtle warning signs, then the not-so-subtle clanging, until the deafening roar was too much for even me to ignore. It was a slow burner this one, building up over time, and slowly and surely draining my energy in the background, leaking it all away until it became all I could do muster up the energy for meetings, clients, and keeping my business functioning; the highs were really high, and then like a sugar high, I crashed and burned, and the lows were low. This happened for a few weeks, until last week, I called it – enough was enough. This is it. Time to take a step back, and figure out what’s really going on here.
Enter the “more is NOT better” epiphany I had sitting on the couch in my coach’s office on Monday. Stating the bleeding obvious, I know. Why was I sitting there every day at my desk (aka kitchen table), feeling crushed under the weight of responsibility of trying to grow and run a business alone, feeling like I’m sinking, failing to take care of my health, with no social life, and trying desperately to find time for the one thing I really love – exercise.
Because, I was working under my old mantra – More Is Better! You own a business? You can’t sleep! You want to grow the business? Then work 7 days! Why are you resting? YOU GOTTA HUSTLE! Don’t you want to be successful? KEEP GOING! Man, that was exhausting. And boy, was I spinning my wheels. Because nothing I was getting done was of very high quality, and I was just adding more and more to the plate to try and feel like I was progressing. How did that work out for me? Not awesomely, I can tell you that much.
A couple of things came out of last week, when it felt like the wheels of my life had fallen off:
1) I have progressed enough in my self-awareness to actually recognize that this was happening and to stop;
2) understanding that I need to get to the bottom of what was constantly pushing me so hard all the time;
3) having the capacity to put some coping strategies in place to salvage the rest of the week; and
4) I needed a new modus operandi if I was ever going to achieve any of the big goals I want to achieve in my life.
That’s a start. Actually, for me, that’s a HUGE start. Because only a couple of years ago, I would have continued soldiering on through this at a punishing pace, and like any good soldier, I wouldn’t have complained about it. I would have “sucked it up” and kept up the relentless march forward, staggering under the weight of responsibility I’d loaded upon myself. I could do it, all I needed was to work a little more and I’d get it all done. Needless to say, more was never the answer.
What the answer is, is quality. Quality will ensure I am able to give my best effort every day to projects and to my clients; not ticking off tasks on a list. Quality work will help me achieve all of my goals; not the noise and unimportant stuff. Quality will help me set the focus for my day and for my week, and just like the 80/20 rule, will ensure I focus on the few important things that will progress me forward leaps and bounds – in whatever it is I choose to do. Work, certainly. Sport, tick. Personal life, hell yes! Hello, free time! Goodbye, hustle!
Have you ever experienced something like this before? Or maybe your week has been similar to mine? Coincidentally, October happens to be mental health awareness month, which I didn’t know until after this had happened. Trust me to time it so precisely! I just knew it was time I got help and so I sought it out, from a friend and from a professional, which I am really proud of. For once, I put myself first! I didn’t let this become anything more than a bad week.
So, to sum this all up for you in a little take-home care pack, there’s a couple of important things I did last week to put the wheels back on my life and prevent this becoming a bad 2 weeks, or a bad month.
- I stopped. I stepped back. I listened to my body, recognized I needed a break, and allowed myself some much-needed recovery time both physically and mentally.
- I prioritized. I looked at my week, and culled everything that was a non-essential to my health and my work. I prioritized the most important things, and this is where knowing your values and your top life priorities comes in really handy.
- I executed. I got done what I needed to get done with the energy, quality and care that those tasks deserved.
- I reflected. This wasn’t the first time this had happened to me, so I started thinking about what it was in my habits and behaviours that kept bringing me to this point.
- I got help. As I mentioned, a visit with my personal development coach was exactly what I needed to dig to the bottom of this issue and be able to move forward – with a new MO.
- I made a new plan. With reflection came very insightful clarity, and now that I know what the problem is, I have created new habits and behaviours that are MUCH healthier for me, focus on quality over quantity, and are sustainable over the long term. I mean, life’s a marathon not a sprint, right?!
I’m happy to report that this week has got off to a great start, and with my new focus on quality rather than on quantity, has been productive and very enjoyable. Fancy that! If you’ve experienced something similar, I’m curious to know how you’ve dealt with this issue, and what the best strategies were that worked for you? I’m constantly looking for ways to improve how I do things, and if these same strategies can help my lovely clients in their lives, then I’m a happy coach!
If you’re feeling stuck in this situation right now, then please reach out and have a chat with me, I’m here to help you get back on the path to achieving your goals!