Feeling out of balance or stuck in overwork mode?
Do you take work home, get up in the middle of the night because you just can’t stop thinking about the things you ‘need’ to do, or do you miss critical personal events because you feel you can’t take the time?
If so, it is time to step back and think about all the reasons why you take on too much. There is a point where we are not as effective or as happy as we could be if took control, focused on our underlying issues, and decided that we have a right to have a balanced, fulfilling life.
This article focuses on the underlying issues and provides us with the opportunity to make a pledge to free ourselves and spend our time on the things that really matter. I am not saying this to diminish the need to put in a good day’s work or achieve our goals. What I am talking about is finding balance and honoring yourself.
Root Causes and Changes We Can Make
In childhood, one of the ways we learn to respond to feelings of anxiety is to over work.
We become the person everyone can count on. We go the extra mile. We think we can do things as well as or better than others, therefore, we take on more without even thinking about what it is doing to our own search for happiness.
After a while, the pattern feels normal. In fact, if we are not working we feel uncomfortable and find things to fill our time.
- Think about each aspect of your life – finances, leisure, family, physical activity, spiritual growth, career, friendships, etc. – and ask if on a scale of 1 to ten, ten being perfect, where you would rank yourself. Then ask this question, “Did all areas receive similar scores?” If they didn’t then something is out of balance. What is it? How can you bring it back in balance? What ‘small’ steps can you take to be on a path to where you want to be?
- Determine what would happen if you weren’t the ‘go to’ person or the person who took on extra responsibilities without saying no?
Anxiety is a normal emotion. It becomes unhelpful when it pushes us to places that do not feed our body, mind and spirit. Balance is essential for all of us. It is your right.
Are the expectations you set for yourself the same as you set for others? If not, why not? Why must you set the bar so high? What is the worse that could happen if you lowered your expectations of yourself?
Who initially set the bar so high for you? As a child, were you told that you were not as good as a sibling, family friend or some of your class mates. Write down all the things that could happen if you lowered the expectations.
- Think back and determine when you began to feel you needed to set such high expectations for yourself? Wonder if you are driving yourself or if you are still trying to please someone else without even knowing it? When you finish this exercise, question whether or not you want to live up to others expectations or unreal demands? Think of new positive thoughts/habits that would enable you to know you are doing your best for others and yourself simultaneously.
2. Question what you are running from. Is it others’ potential criticisms? Do you feel flawed? If you do, it is essential to remember that you are not defective, you are perfect just as you are at this present moment?
3. Write out the story of your ideal life. You cannot live another person’s life for them or make up for their inadequacies (that includes your parents and family). You can only be your best self. Each person is on their own journey. Choose your journey and your destinations wisely.
Fear of Failure
We are living in an age of comparisons. We are judged based on what we wear, the color of our skin, our spiritual or religious beliefs, how we wear our hair and so on. As a result, we want to fit in. We do not want to fail.
Our fear of failure, can lead us to perfectionism. We are never satisfied with what we accomplish. As soon as we reach one goal, we set another. We often fail to enjoy the journey. We become addicted to success.
- Celebrate small accomplishments.
- Determine what is really meaningful for ourselves and aim for that. Let others accomplish what is important to them without judging their choices.
- Create a vision of what you really want. Focus on it until you create a movie with sound, pictures and outcomes.
- Remember that there are no mistakes. There are only mis takes. Just like a movie director who takes several shots before they choose which to use, you can do the same. Each time we mis take something, reconsider it and determine how we can take it better the next time. Mis take, learn, and keep moving forward.
Do you find that work dominates your life? Are you afraid to create work-life balance? Do you wonder what you will do when you retire or your family moves away? Will you have friends or will those close to you move on because you have no time for them now? Will you have any interest to fill your time? What will your identity be or will you feel insignificant?
Do you know what you love? If so, why aren’t you nurturing it? When does it become too late to engage with the people who have the same interests as yourself?
Do you want to wake up one day feeling as if your life is empty? If not, stop now and do some things for yourself.
- Write down 5 jobs you would do if you could not continue doing the one you are doing now?
- Write down 3 interests. Ask what you are doing to cultivate each interest and meet people with the same interests?
- Articulate what a full life looks like, sounds like and feels like for you.
- Take a sheet of paper and divide it in two columns. In the first column, write all your strengths. Next write down three feelings or behaviour patterns you have. For example, I avoid going to things alone or my neck or shoulders are always tight. In the second column, ask this question regarding the first pattern, “How does this pattern or belief serve me?” For the second pattern, “Why am I choosing to repeat this pattern or belief?” For the third pattern ask, “Why am I holding on to this pattern or belief?” Consider your learnings and move forward.
- Write down all the reasons your life feels empty. Next to each reason, write one thing you could do to change it. Now take action.
Do you think that you lack of skills needed to change your life? If you do, delineate the skill you are missing. For example, you might say
I am unable to have those critical conversations
I am afraid of rejection
I don’t want to take any chances because I do not want to feel old hurts over again
I only know how to work, or
I have difficulty making friends.
Remember, all skills can be learned.
- Determine why you are uncomfortable.
- Find a coach who can help you in the area identified.
- Take time to learn and practice the skills.
- Always remember that you can do it. You are worth the investment.
It is not uncommon to hear people say that they do not want to be poor. They have to work hard to secure their future. The real question is, “When is enough really enough?”
If you are overworking, you are probably not enjoying the money you have now. What makes any of us think we will enjoy it when stop working? You deserve wealth. You have a right to have your needs met.
- Question the source of the fear of not having enough.
- Determine how much money you need to do whatever it is you want to do or to support the lifestyle you have in mind.
- Establish a plan to realize the financial goal you set for yourself. Stick to your plan but do not fixate on it to the point that it is running your life rather than you being in control of your life and your well being.
- Question where the fear of poverty or not enough came from. It may be valid for the source but not valid for you.
- There are all forms of wealth. Which are most important to you? Money, friends, family, relaxation time, time to engage in hobbies?
If you are overworking, whether or not it is only at work or between work and home, you are still overburdening yourself. You only have one chance to live this life – it is not a dress rehearsal.
Enjoy it. Live it. Love it. Love yourself.
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