Breakthrough challenge: Know when enough is enough

How to successfully break free from work

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Image credit: Well Pet Coach

The home once was once a place of sanctuary. In a digital landscape that never sleeps, it now has become an extension of the office. The outcome is more stress related illnesses and mental fatigue.

It’s time to breakthrough this challenge and know when enough is enough. Do you know when to switch off and forget about work? It appears that the human race has made a group decision to pick up the collective pace.

Take an example of airport moving escalators. You step on the platform and suddenly it feels like you’re moving a little faster. With everyone else, you have jumped on the fast track moving in the same direction. Once on, it feels impossible to get off.

But you can.

If you stop, you can break out of the group trance. Turn around, walk against the current, and step off the moving platform—at least long enough to ask yourself the following questions:

1. What values matter most?

What brings you a sense of purpose? Reflect on this question for a couple of minutes. Peel back the layers of social and family conditioning, to discover what is really important. It’s good to note that the time spent on this first question is worth finding the answer.

The challenge to know how much is enough, is to give a voice to your values.  It’s an action step towards happiness and feeling grounded.

2. Where is the hidden cost? 

You pay the price when you push yourself or furiously multitask. Beyond the obvious stress and exhaustion, constant striving can take other tolls: The loss of community, family tension and diminished relationships, as well as compromised health, mental fatigue, and even frayed nerves.

Mental fatigue increases the chance of forgetting things, requiring you to revisit your work. It also increases the likelihood that you ‘cut corners’, since you’re rushing to complete a task.  Corner cutting often results in having to re-do work, sometimes in embarrassing ways, if you don’t catch mistakes before other people see them.

For example, I have dyslexia that is heightened during periods of stress. I sent a ‘draft’ version of social media posts for review before re-reading them and it was noted that some of the words were written back to front.

Losing this job was the catalyst to my purpose of helping business owners turn their social media followers into customers.

During stress, the cognitive part of the brain switches off. This is a clear warning that you’re suffering high levels of stress, and it’s best to take some time out to relax.

3. Why are you doing this?

Does your career path bring health and happiness, love and connection, a peaceful mind and generosity of spirit?  Or does it provide stress, and way too much stimulation, because you can’t switch off?

Do you think it benefits you or your loved ones? Or have you sacrificed the simple pleasures of everyday life for the illusion of more-is-better?

What are you sacrificing for and working so hard?  

It may be because you’re building your brand or business – which means that in the short fall yes you may work a lot. Granted you may have the support of family and friends. If you don’t, perhaps it’s time to take a break and rebuild your relationships.

4. Who are you doing this for?

A great deal of our activity is based on appearances, by judging the worthiness of our own life and comparing it to the lives of others, such as keeping up appearances with the Jones’s.  

Many individuals are guilty of trying to be somebody they’re not, and buying things in an attempt to impress everyone from their boss, to the mythical Jones’s to the cosmic committee.  

Here’s a little secret: If there is a cosmic committee, the members will only wish something far grander for you, other than things or status.

And here’s another tip—the Jones’s are also comparing themselves to someone else—maybe even you.

Whatever you do, do it for you—the deeper you. Put your energy into being your most genuine, fully present and generous self.

5. When do you stop striving?

When you work in order to achieve a future goal, whether it’s to build the dream home or save the world, you often forget to celebrate what’s already in the house and on the planet.  It’s not to say you shouldn’t dream or try to improve yourself or the world.  

People who focus their energies exclusively on work have a tendency to develop stress related difficulties. When you’re in a situation where your ‘leisure time’ is occupied by thoughts of work, there is a problem. Be alert to the symptoms of stress:

  • Are you having difficulty sleeping?
  • Do thoughts about work intrude your social life?
  • Are you enjoying your time at work less?
  • Do you have difficulty enjoying your time away from work?
  • Are you becoming more irritable and less patient?

To take back control you can follow the advice of scientists in the article ‘How to be better at Stress’ by Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times: “The best way to get better at stress is to practice it. Scientists call this “stress inoculation” …regular exposure to small amounts of stress can inoculate you from the most detrimental effects of stress.”

Try to find a balance between work and your personal life. Examine your habits and practices to see how you can work productively, but only at work.

Here is a life strategy from the 12th century packed into 14 words by Persian poet Rumi:

It’s in the silence that you can discover how much is enough, and what brings you joy. When you rush around noisily from one thing to another, how can you ever feel the stronger pull as Rumi suggests?  

The next time you’re faced with a ‘how much is enough’ dilemma, take a few deep breaths, dip down into silence, and see if you can feel the stronger pull.  Then my friend I suggest you follow it. It may not lead to the shopping mall or the bar with your mates, but it will bring you closer to the golden treasure of feeling good.

A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn When is Enough really Enough written by Caria Watt.

Image courtesy: Bruno Cervera, Unsplash 2020

Image credit: Well Pet Coach

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