I’m totally with DB on this one. Draw lines in the sand. I want to live a long time, and being overcommitted is the surest way to cut down your lifespan. Make time for yourself, separate work from real life, turn off your phone, and draw up some rules for yourself.
A simple one I have is this: If I’m so tired that I need an alarm clock to wake me up then I’m trying to do too much. When I’m doing everything right I sleep 8 hrs and wake up raring to go.
Basically I look for 4 ingredients, and they’re equally important. If my life doesn’t provide ALL of them then I’m doing something wrong and need to change it.
- Improving your material situation is a basic human drive. Ignore it at your peril. Nothing wrong with wanting to make money. It’s not the most important thing in the world, but it’s up there with oxygen.
- The other half of the ‘improving’ requirement is to develop the self. If you’re not learning you’re not growing, you’re not alive. Some people recommend setting aside an hour a day to daydream, plan, plot, keep the mind active.
- What’s the point being alive if you’re not enjoying it? Fun, good buddy, is essential. Mindless partying is fun for some, others enjoy a challenge. No thrill withou skill for me.
- You have to balance the taking with the giving. Do a job you can feel good about, something that has some meaning. Helping, providing, teaching, creating wealth is good. Redistributing wealth - sales, for instance - is bad because you’re not contributing anything.
You can focus on, or do without, some aspect for a while but you have to strike a balance. I think of it as some kind of perpetual motion machine oscillating around four points, and drawing energy from all of them. It’s OK if it swings around or favours one corner for a while. If your machine goes into orbit around one point you need to give it a nudge, and if you don’t it will grind to a halt.
Whenever I find myself getting tired, demotivated, or stressed, I take a step back and re-assess my life to make sure that I have all the necessary ingredients. What am I missing? How do I get the machine running again?
Having done that I’m very hard-headed and ruthless in enforcing the rules I’ve set for myself. I have to be, because otherwise everyone else’s needs will take precedence over mine. The most important lesson I ever learned is that most of the time people will rely on/blame others instead of taking responsibility for their own lives. You have to separate your real needs from what other people think they need from you, and make the changes necessary to regain your equilibrium.
If your problem seems to be that you’re working too much then ask yourself if it’s worth it to you. What do you get back?
If your work is something you enjoy, you’re learning from it, and you feel good about it, then you’re not really doing it for the money. It’s probably not doing any you any harm. Building the life you have now has been a fun, learning experience that you can feel good about, and no doubt you’ve made some money too.
But if you’re no longer enjoying it as much, or it’s getting to be hard work, then you’ve probably stopped growing. Repetition gets to be tedious. You need to reduce your working time to give yourself chance to get what you need from some other source. Or you can change your working life so that it provides all the ingredients again.
Look at it in very simple terms:
Everything comes to a head because you’re not in control any more. You make poor decisions because your options are created by others, things go badly for you, and what you need to do is dictated by your circumstances rather than by your will. You crash and burn because you don’t have your hands on the wheel any more. You’ll lose money, friends, self-respect and it’s hard as hell to pick yourself up.
It’s all about control. Take the wheel, take the initiative, and let other people solve their own problems. You’re no good to anyone if you burn out, and true friends will understand that. There are other teachers out there to take your classes, other drinking buddies this night, other people to take the opportunity. If you are fit, healthy, motivated, and happy then you will be ready to take the next opportunity. There’s always another one, if you care to have enough time to spot it.
Remember, the real opportunities are not the ones that someone else offers you. You make your own opportunities in this life, and meanwhile a few extra thousand nt is small beer. Hey! I know you can’t say no to one more small beer, but maybe that’s your problem.
I’ll turn down the last small beer, in favour of waking up in a fit condition to welcome the new day and all it’s myriad oppoortunities - without an alarm clock! And who cares if some psycho alcoholic wants to spend tomorrow sleeping off a hangover? That’s his problem. I’ve got a life to lead. Somebody wants you to teach another class? That’s his business and you don’t sacrifice your health so someone else can make money.
Again, if these people care about you they will understand and respect your needs. Just announce that you’re burning out and need to reduce your commitments or else you will be no good for anything or anyone. “It’s non-negotiable, either we work something out or one day I won’t be here. I’m sorry, but I can’t do anything about it.”
Hope this helps.
SB, the man with all the answers. Yeah, right.