A Gentle Reminder to the Over-Achiever
So by now, we have established that I am involved in doing a lot of different things, and am a complete perfectionist and overachiever (often to the detriment of my own physical and mental health). Operating and managing 4 businesses, managing employees, completing my required research and clinical hours for school, giving lectures and teaching classes, writing articles and this blog, as well as continuing to innovate and expand upon what I'm already up to (while also trying to remind myself of my great breakthrough which I talked about in Burn, Baby, Burn(out)). This week has been excessively busy with clients, orders, projects, proposals, clinical hours, exams, and then just the 10,000 things that need to be done before Veteran's Day Weekend (this weekend) and Thanksgiving (the week after next).
RFM has a bunch of Veteran's Day stuff happening, and NE Tea is launching a new super-secret and exciting product/program/thing Thanksgiving weekend that's requiring a lot of time and energy to get off the ground. The private practice is trying to get a support group off the ground. I've got a new website I'm building for a customer that's due to launch any day now. And there's Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday (and Black Friday, but I prefer not to acknowledge that one if I can help it) for which all my businesses have to have stuff ready - specials, discounts, giveaways, events, promos, product launches, etc. Then holiday cards need to go out to all my clients and customers to thank them for such a beautiful and successful year and share a little gift. Plus a few other things that I can't think of off the top of my head. And it's all so much. I mean, it's really only my standard work plus like 4 or 5 other things, but each thing has a couple hundred itty bitty sub-items that have to get done in order for that thing to happen. And they each only take 2-20 minutes, but that's 2-20 minutes times a couple hundred, and in case you suck at math, that's a lot of minutes. And brain power. And energy. And trying to keep it all straight and organized is a full-time job in and of itself.
And it's easy to "make hay while the sun shines," as a colleague of mine often says. That is, it's easy to decide you just have to push hard, work extra long hours, really knuckle down and get through this thing, embrace the success while you can, because as soon as you complete this (super awesome) project, you can relax and bask in the glory of your accomplishment. But there's always another cool project on the other side of this one. There's always an excuse to keep over-doing it, keep going, and you can always rest next week. But next week is a fiction.
And see, it's not that I mind doing the 100+ little things for each cool project. I actually really love my work. It's that, well... yesterday I had 98 items on my to-do list. And I did most of them! I did like... 92 things. Which is a pretty big accomplishment, if you think about it. I checked so much off my list! But I never finished a single big project. I "just" completed 90-some-odd mini-tasks which propelled all the other "big projects" forward several substantial steps. But that doesn't have that feeling of accomplishment like completing a project does. It's just... exhausting.
Around 1 pm yesterday, after doing a shitton, and making all my deliveries, and getting everyone paid, and finally getting back to the home office, I pulled out the to-do list, saw how many things I still needed to get done that day, and I cried. I had a little emotional breakdown. I can't do this! It's too much, I'm so fucking tired, everything hurts, I'm not smart enough, it's not worth it, sob sob sob. As I do, I quickly pulled myself together and decided to push through. Be strong! Conquer your day! Power through! Keep on keeping on! I'm a motherfucking woman (and yes, that was a Kesha quote)! As I was setting up my computer, I felt that little fire inside me just extinguish. That's bad. So I did the unthinkable - I practiced what I preach and decided to implement some self-care. I went down to my favourite coffee shop, got a chai latte, and sat in the corner with a good book for a solid 45 minutes. I read my book, drank my fancy-drink, listened to good music, and just enjoyed a few moments of relaxation and decompression, and allowed myself to breathe. I got to chat with one of my favourite baristas about classic rock music for a few minutes before heading home, and with a clear mind and a rekindled little fire, proceeded to kick ass and take names. I owned that to-do list!
But see, I usually don't let myself have those moments. I don't think most people, at least most entrepreneurs, do. It's "GO! GO! GO!" all the time. You have to do so many things every day just to keep your head above water and keep moving forward that you sort of forget that you're already doing wonderfully - and also that you're a human and need to rest and breathe occasionally. We tend to only stop to celebrate, rest when we've reached big milestones. Project completion! It's a holiday! Graduated! And those are good things that should be celebrated, and rest should definitely be had. But as my very wise bestie, who is also an amazing entrepreneurial lady-boss, pointed out today, we need and deserve to relish our accomplishments, even the small ones. Little progress is still progress, and we can't take that for granted.
She's right. She's always right. She's brilliant and kind and I adore her. But she's right. If we just live for the big wins and forget to honor the little steps forward, that's a one-way ticket for an express train to burnout and insanity. To adrenal fatigue and self-loathing. To numbness and missing all the beautiful moments of life. It's hard to remember, especially in our fast-paced society that lauds being busy all the time, being the best, the most accomplished, the most important (sound familiar?). But while accomplishing great things is an awesome goal, there's something to be said for living in the moment, appreciating what you have already done, how hard you've worked, the items you've checked off the list, the sweat on your brow, and the dirt under your fingernails. Breathing, reading a book, clearing your mind, staying grounded. It's a tough balancing act, but it's one that it's vital to our mind and body that we actively work towards perfecting. I'm far from finding that balance, but I'm working on it.
My big wins today are, in addition to getting almost all the little, and a few not so little items checked off my list, I remembered to hydrate adequately (dehydration is a big problem for people with chronic illnesses like mine)! And not just with coffee, but with plenty of good, clean, spring water! I remembered to take my pills this morning. I brought everything I needed to the office - I didn't forget anything at home! I read a book during lunch instead of answering emails. Even though today is far from over, I'm going to go ahead and call it a win. Because I did a lot of things, I appreciated the little ones, and I made space for myself in my day. What big and little ways have you kicked ass today?