You cannot give something you do not have. So many people that I work with really want to do it all, for everyone else, every day, no matter what. Oh, and do it perfectly, thanks. And they burn out! And then they wonder why they feel so bad when they’re trying to do what they think they should love.
Surprise! You have to take care of yourself first. This is not selfish. In fact, it is the most selfless thing you can do, because when you are at your best you can bring your best to your work. I would even go so far as to say that it’s selfish to try to be everything for everyone except yourself – you get to pat yourself on the back for feeling like you’re trying really hard, and you get to pity yourself for sacrificing so much for others at your own expense. Ultimately, however, you are not as effective as you’d like to be when you are running on empty. Why do we sign ourselves up for this all the time? What it comes down to is an underlying fear of how others might perceive and judge us.
In my experience, no one is actually thinking too much about anyone else, but we do all put these labels on ourselves (e.g., we’re too frivolous, too lazy, too selfish, etc.). I used to have a really difficult time setting boundaries with my money, time and energy; other people decided how I would allocate them all. Or at least that’s what I told myself – that other people were in control of all of these resources for me, so what could I do? Really though, I just wanted to fit in, not rock the boat, not say no to anyone. So what would happen? I would go out to that event when I was tired, I would take that trip I wasn’t interested in, I would sign up for the internal project at work that I wasn’t passionate about, because I wanted everyone to think I was reliable, popular, and very important because I was so busy. Now that I say no a lot more often, I have come to realize two fundamental truths:
No one actually cares what you do with your money, time and energy. Promise.
If they do, it’s because they are aware of something in themselves that they want to change, and that is not your job to sort out.
Test this on yourself. Do you care what other people do with their resources? Usually not, I’m betting. If you do care, what makes you care? Are you envious that they’ve set boundaries where you wish you could? Are you afraid that if your friend doesn’t spend money the way that you do, maybe they know something you don’t? Are you mad that a coworker goes to the gym during her lunch break while you have so much to do?
Pay attention to your feelings – they are just information to guide you on your path – no need to ignore or condemn them. If you’re out of steam, it is your duty to recharge, so that you can continue to show up as your best self each day. Start to bring your bestby being your best.
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