I have always been the type of person who liked to keep busy. Invariably working on some project or other and constantly focusing on the next thing. I get bored easily and finding stimulation definitely helps keep me out of trouble. Every so often, however, I find myself completely over committed and stressed. Every time this happens, I promise myself never again. I swear I will avoid taking too much on, and I even manage to convince myself that next time it will be different. However, despite these vows, within a few months, I end up overloaded again and my old pal anxiety comes to pay a visit.
At the moment, I am certainly in an overloaded phase. Work is getting busy, with budgets, year end and audits all on the horizon. All of these things will be firsts for me in this job, so they don’t come without an element of uncertainty. I have just started a new course of cookery workshops, which will be keeping me busy too. In addition to this, I am doing a diploma course through work, for which a dissertation and exam are looming in the coming weeks. Add to this the usual activities of writing, YouTubing, training, meal prep etc. and it all begins to feel a little overwhelming!
I know I am not alone in this. Many of us constantly feel like we have way too many plates spinning and the anxiety that comes with it can be crippling. Did you ever feel like you have so much to do, that you actually don’t want to do anything? That’s where I am at right now. I just want to pull the duvet over my head and emerge in the New Year, when all this stress will be behind me. Of course, that’s not a solution (unfortunately!) Luckily for me, this situation has an end date. My exam is at the end of November, and win, lose or draw, once that is behind me, I know I will have a little more breathing space.
The course, as useful as it has been, feels very much like the proverbial straw. So, why did I ever agree to it? I had been asking myself that question a lot. As much to help me avoid ending up in this predicament again as anything else. Because, let’s face it, anxiety dreams about the Leaving Cert are something I can live without! The answer to this question came to me in a book I read recently. It is the latest from Ryan Holiday, Ego is The Enemy. In this book, which I highly recommend, Ryan talks about how our ego can truly be our undoing.
The part that really struck a chord with me, talks about how when something is offered to us, like this course for instance, our ego will drown out our sensible mind. I was flattered to be asked to do the course. I am not terribly long in the company and I was delighted to be considered for it. This definitely formed a large part of my decision making process. As well as this, I concerned myself with how it would look, and what it would say about me if I turned down the opportunity. Would my bosses think I didn’t want to progress? Would I appear ungrateful and insolent? Would it go against me when I tried to pursue other opportunities? These were the questions I asked myself, when I should, in fact, have been looking at the other commitments I have. I should have asked myself “do you really have the time to give this the effort it deserves?”
I honestly believe that had I read Ryan’s book six months earlier, I may not be in the situation I now find myself in. In future, I am determined to let my rational mind make my decisions for me, and not allow my ego to get me in too deep. One thing that I have learned through the years, is that you can pretty much endure anything for a short time. I know by Christmas this will be all behind me and I know I have the fortitude to gut it out till then. Life has a pretty steep learning curve, but I am hoping that this particular lesson will stick!
I love my job, and I enjoy all of my other projects immensely. The last few weeks though, the pressure of being over committed has threatened to take the good out of it. I never want to end up feeling like my life is a series of chores. So, I am determined to pick my battles more wisely in future. It is okay to say no. I cannot be all things to all men, and as much as that fact irritates me, I will just have to accept it!
For any of the rest of you, who may be feeling like your plate is a little on the full side, be careful about what else you put onto it. More importantly, be careful what you allow others to put onto it. We have to be our own gate keepers. If we let too many thing pile on top of us, we really do become our own worst enemy!