Would you let your kids eat take-away every day?

I work too much. My family will happily tell you that I work too much.  I preach that people need to look after themselves but I still work way too much. (We teach the lessons we need to learn).

So I probably don’t have a leg to stand on when I am telling managers and business owners that they have a responsibility to ensure that they or their staff don’t work too much.

I have many friends out there who also work too much.  I come across many leaders and managers who tell me that either they have to do all of the work because no-one else can do it (well not as well as them) or that their staff won’t let anyone else do the work.

Oh the need to be needed; the need to fill in every moment of every day. Our self worth being met by the work that we do; rather than the people we are.

So us over-workers hold on to all of the work for dear life. We have an excuse, a reason for needing to do it all.

It is sometimes the end of the world if someone tries to take the work away from us.  Who are we if we don’t to all the work?  What is our identity if people don’t know us as that wonderful hardworking (long suffering) person who does it all?

It is incredibly hard to feel the feels of letting go of work and finding your self worth in something else.

I so get it. I am writing this blog on a Saturday afternoon whilst I distract myself from other work I need to do.

The problem with holding on to all the work and not letting other people help you is a bit like letting your child eat takeaway every day.  We know it is not good for us or for our staff but we do it anyway.  It’s addictive. And the long term damage is not immediately obvious; but slowly, very slowly the signs of stress and lack of self care show up.

So my question to you (and myself) is, would you let your child eat takeaway every day? If the answer is no, then you need to make a change.

What about me?

Are you being picked on?

Are people being mean to you?

Do you feel you are under attack?

Is everything going wrong? Have you misplaced your keys, forgotten to collect your children from childcare or been rained on when walking the dogs? You feel like you everything that is going wrong is because of you. No matter what you do, it’s all wrong.  The world is against you.

Chances are you are feeling extremely stressed. Recent events have taken their toll on you.

Chances are you are in the world of one. The world of me. The world where you are the centre of the universe and it’s all about you.

When we’re in the world of one we don’t care about other people. We don’t care how they feel. We don’t have empathy; no-one is suffering like we are suffering.

We talk about ourselves all the time. We talk about others in derogatory terms. Everything is hard. It’s onerous. We complain …. a lot.

We tell everyone that we are exhausted.

Truth is – we are exhausted. Tired from the continued stress of unresolved issues. Tired from feeling bad about ourselves. All of our negative self talk.

Want to turn that around?

Stop. Breath. Take time out. Take a day off. Take a week off. Go for a walk. Go for a run. Ride your bike. Sing along to your favourite album. Have a massage. Read your book.

Do something for you. Look after you.

And then write a list of everything and everybody you are grateful for.

Then repeat that on a regular basis. Do something for you every day.

Then deal with the unresolved stuff.

Stop suffering. Live. Love.

I broke a fingernail and it was the end of the world

I get my nails painted about every four weeks. This phenomenon started about three years ago when one of our children got married and I decided that my outfit would be enhanced with painted nails. I had so much fun getting them painted at the time and chatting to my new best friend Lucy, that I decided that this was now a thing for me. A bit of fun and some time out from my busy schedule.

To be honest I am as rough as guts and I tend to chip my freshly painted nails pretty quickly.  Lucy gets a good laugh out of how bad my nails can look at the end of four weeks.

And sometimes I break a nail, which is annoying but not the end of the world. But sometimes it is. Sometimes my reaction to my broken nail is completely over the top.

You see, I have a number of balls in the air all the time and I tend to work a lot. So I put myself under quite a lot of pressure. (Do what I say don’t do what I do). And when I get really tired and run down, I can become quite stressed. And when I am a bit more stressed than usual I can start to catastrophise and overreact (trying not to exaggerate here) about small stuff, like a broken nail. In these instances I might suddenly becoming that yelling person who finds fault in everything, I thump at my computer and I might cry about things that I would not normally get upset about; I also tend to suffer – a lot.

Fortunately, my family understand that when I am dramatically carrying on and on about a piffling thing like a broken nail, the internet going slow or someone buying the “wrong” brand of toilet paper – that I am just very stressed and they don’t take my behaviour personally.

And it is fascinating, because as soon as I start blaming everyone around me for everything going wrong, yelling at the Universe to be kind to me, finding fault with everything/everyone other bad things tend to occur.  I often lose my keys, get parking fines, lock myself out of the house, stop sleeping well.  That is usually a very clear indication that I may not be in a good spot right now.

I usually know that when I have got to this point that I need to stop, breathe, go for a work, take a day off – do something for me.

Many of us live very fast lives. Our days are full. If we are self employed, we often work all day in the business and all night on the business. It is hugely stressful.

So my challenge to you is to find ways to take care of yourself and to practice them.  But more than anything – be alert. If you suddenly find yourself catastrophising over a broken finger nail – chances are it’s time for some proper time out.

Taking on too much is my kryptonite

I am run a micro business and I do nearly everything in my business. I am slowly but surely getting some help with the business; in the last twelve months I have outsourced my bookkeeping, taken on a virtual assistant and get help with my social media. But I still struggle with delegating tasks, so I wear most of the hats in my business and it’s full on.

I often think that sole traders and micro business owners are like super heroes. They do everything. They are amazing at working in the business; and then they put in these super human hours and work on the business. I have so much respect and admiration for small business owners.

But we are not invincible. And I learnt that the hard way this year when I agreed to help manage a great and successful project that was not part of my core business.

I agreed to take on this project in February and the project got properly underway in June and was at its most frenetic in September.  I am pleased to say that the project was hugely successful and it brought a lot of joy to a lot of people. So it wasn’t a bad thing, it’s just that it took me time away from my main game from June to October. And I was completely exhausted by the end of the project.

It was one of those times when I got distracted by shiny objects and flattering comments. I thought I was super human, that I could manage to take on even more work and responsibility. I thought I could do everything.

But I know that I didn’t manage this project as well as I could have because I was constantly juggling my other responsibilities – such as running my own business and spending time with my family.

By once again saying yes and agreeing to undertake work that was a distraction to my main game, I put at risk my goals and aspirations.

But what was even worse is that it affected my sense of well being and it impacted on my health. I have spent the last three years practicing self care.  I now have a number of non-negotiables in my life such as running/walking every day, making sure I take a day off each week, going to bed early and eating nutritious and healthy foods.

By taking on this non-essential project, I put all of that risk and by the end of September was starting to feel terrible. I became tired and stressed out again.  In the last six weeks of the project I barely ran or walked at all. My diet suffered because I have so little time to prepare food. My stress levels were up and despite being exhausted I couldn’t sleep. Suddenly my non-negotiables became negotiable again.

But at the end of the day I have no-one to blame but myself. I should never have said yes.

I love to work. There is no doubt that l am a workaholic. But even workaholics have their limits and I just reached mine.

The good news is – I’ve learnt my lesson. I won’t do that again. My non-negotiables are firmly back in place and I am able to sleep again.

None of us our super human. We have to look after ourselves. No-one can do it for us. We have to set our own boundaries, our non-negotiables for good health. We have to protect ourselves from ourselves. And we know that all superheroes have their kryptonite.