What are the subtle signs you can look for to tell you when you are pushing too hard and it’s time for you step back and take a breather before you burn yourself out?
Our society hugely values busyness and being busy. Years of running on that treadmill conditions you to get busy and be busy in order to create movement.
While movement on your part will usually yield results, there are always exceptional circumstances that can interfere, and in this case it’s the economy.
So you’re running four times as fast to make half the amount of money – and the only way you can relieve your current stressors is to make more money. So you push yourself even harder.
Being a person who is accustomed to pushing yourself and handling discomfort, you ignore the symptoms your body sends you – largely because you’ve trained yourself to ignore them over the years in order to get the job done.
This is a common trap that entrepreneurs and workaholics fall into.
If you are a victim of this mentality, what signs can you look for that will tell you you’re pushing too hard, and it’s time to slow burn before you burn out?
1. You always have extra work to do at night and over the weekends
In the beginning it made sense to work like this… come home, rest for a bit and then climb into the load again.
But if you’re coming home with work to do every single night, and you always have extra stuff to do on the weekends, then chances are you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. If you’re working for a boss, then you have to remember that they are only paying you for a specified amount of hours – even if you do work extra and bill more. You are entitled to your time to rest, and adequate rest makes you a better employee.
If you’re working for yourself or on your own, then you have to realize that the load and to-do list will be never-ending.
If you don’t create fixed times that you walk away from your devices and work, then no one will do it for you. If you keep pushing yourself endlessly and you fall over, there will be no one there to pick that load up for you.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Conserve your energy for the long haul.
2. Your partner, family and friends complain they don’t see you
For those of us that get passionately involved in our work, stopping to ‘do nothing’ while we talk to family and friends can sometimes be a terrible drag actually.
If the people close to you are complaining though, perhaps it’s time to stop and listen. Also it’s an easy trigger for you to remember that you need time off, and it’s a reminder that will come to you with very little effort.
3. You lie awake (worrying) at night
Sometimes it’s because you were up working too late and your brain is still stimulated, sometimes it’s because you are lying awake worrying.
Sleep disruption is usually a common sign that something isn’t right in your body, and a sign that your body needs adequate rest and recuperation. Anxiety and worrying is also easier to handle when you are adequately rested.
Another sleep sign you can look for is exhaustion. You’ll notice this because you fall asleep quickly and dead, but never feel rested. You may also stop dreaming, or if you don’t usually dream, you may start having very active dreams.
4. You feel overwhelmed by your workload
You get to your desk and there is just so much to do – so many lists, so many to-dos, so many emails and calls.
Despite how much time you put into it, you just never seem to get on top of the load. You also have no idea where to start.
So you allow yourself to be distracted, procrastinating while you do this and that, not getting yourself focused and into flow.
You start making a list, but by the time you get to the second page, you feel overwhelmed that you could even get to this – it’s days of work ahead of you.
So you don’t begin at all. Or you start something totally new, leaving a barrage of half-started projects in your wake, each one of them serving as a reminder to you of how inadequate your performance has been of late.
We really do beat ourselves up don’t we?
5. You dread getting started
Because you feel overwhelmed, you often dread getting started – started in the morning, started when you get to your desk, motivated to do anything.
So you battle to get out of bed in the morning, and you find yourself feeling sick more often. You battle to commit to appointments and dates and find yourself trying to block aside time to get to the stuff you haven’t done that is weighing so heavily on your conscience.
Basically, you do everything but sit down and get the work done – which is what you know you really want to help you feel better.
Chances are that if you took a little better care of yourself and got the regular rest and recuperation you need, you’d have more than enough energy and drive to get through what’s been holding you back.