While you may emerge victoriously, the prize on the other side is typically just another race…unless you give yourself permission to change.
I realize that I have spent a good percentage of my life gutting things out; pushing myself through even the worst of times, overwhelmed yet emerging victorious on the other side…but at what cost?
I’m not sure who first taught me to do this. Maybe it was watching my mother who, to this day, never acknowledges when she is sad, mad or needs any sort of help. Nonetheless, as I look back at my career, I know that there were many times where I suffered unnecessarily and certainly longer than I should have. And while getting through and crossing that imaginary finish line may present a gift of relief coupled with a dose of success, it’s a short-lived celebration…because the race simply starts right back up again.
So why do we turn everyday life challenges into a never-ending endurance race? Typically, the catalyst is our own unwillingness or inability to give ourselves permission to change.
There are countless examples of times I forced myself to endure a situation needlessly, yet a couple stand out…
Like the years I worked as a “one armed paperhanger,” acting as CEO, COO, and C everything else to my business, without so much as pausing to acknowledge that I was spending the majority of my time doing things I hated nor was good at (like administrative, bookkeeping and human resource work) and not nearly enough time doing what I loved (building client relationships). It wasn’t until my husband encouraged me one day to put an ad in the local paper to hire an assistant that it even occurred to me that I was entitled to help.
Or how about the times where I simply didn’t feel well and couldn’t give myself the permission to take the day off because I believed my employees, my clients, and the world wouldn’t function without me?
And of course, there are way too many times that I agreed to talk with a client well past normal business hours, simply because I worried that saying “no” would mean people would think less of me.
How I ended some of my own personal endurances races
In hindsight, the solutions to my overwork and overwhelm were so simple, yet, when in the moment, I just couldn’t see my way out. I kept telling myself, “You took this on, now you need to finish it.”
For instance, to solve for my overwhelm at work, I hired the very best assistant/office manager 10 years ago (and since then, countless other indispensable employees) who, as if in one fell swoop, freed me of the minutia that was weighing me down. I have since taken many days off because I was under the weather or just needed some time to power down, and I set a virtually unbreakable rule whereby I do not take business calls after 7pm (and, to my knowledge, not one person has thought me lame).
All of these relatively simple acts turned out to be revolutionary for me, positively impacting my need for quiet and replenishment, and to find balance between the professional and personal sides of my life. They certainly relieved some of the burden of running that seemingly unstoppable endurance race of daily life!
For most of us, the ability to find an answer to a problem is relatively easy; it’s realizing that there is a problem in the first place and then giving ourselves the permission to change that’s the hard part. And that “permission to change” is key here, because we are entitled to feel supported and balanced—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Life, as it turns out, is not meant to be lived as a test of endurance. A life well-lived is one that is paced with the terrain. While it won’t all be smooth, allowing yourself to stop and chart a new course every now and then is completely acceptable and even highly recommended.