Ever find yourself overwhelmed, exhausted and frustrated with a job you once loved?
Hoping you’ll find your way back to enjoying your work again, you keep your head down and focus on finishing so you can finally take a breather.
“As soon as I finish this project,” you tell your family and friends, who have nearly given up on tugging at you for some quality time. But they understand—you’re committed to excellence.
Finally you finish the project, and you can now breathe.
Excited, you carve out quality time with the people you’ve been neglecting—and your pillow! You blow through the emails you ignored for a few weeks, and take a deep breathe in anticipation for some down time to push the refresh button.
Moments before you disconnect for the day, you see an email from your client (or boss), informing you of your next big project—starting in two days. So much for pushing the recharge button on your internal battery!
After a few years of this cycle, you start thinking about switching industries, companies or careers, thinking maybe you just need something different.
“But I love this work—and this company,” you think, “What happened?”
Just last week, I met a graphic designer in this exact situation—thinking about switching careers, even though she loves the work!
“They demand too much,” she said, “It’s hard to enjoy the creative process with so many demands. My work has been shoddy, and I’m not proud of what I’m creating anymore.”
Ever had an experience like this?
Just last week I found myself miserable doing an activity I love—swimming.
That’s a miracle since I can remember seeing myself dead at the bottom of the pool while I was trying to make it across a twenty-five meter lane just four years ago. It took a couple of years, but I fell in love with it. It’s meditative, peaceful, and a great workout.
Not on this particular day, though.
Marci, my coach who’s helping me get ready for a five-mile open water swim to benefit Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, gave me a ridiculously challenging workout—4500 meters of continuous swimming in a fifty meter lane. No stopping.
Exhausted, I heard myself thinking, “Just quit now… you don’t like fundraising anyway.”
Then, a few days later, I did another big swim—only this time I added in multiple tiny pit stops, grabbing a swig of water and catching my breath. Though the distance was similar, I found myself enjoying it a great deal more—and, I finished in roughly the same time.
When I got out of the pool that day, I thought about the one element that made the second swim joyful and the other arduous, painful and exhausting.
Stopping to breathe.
Simple, yet not so easy to do when you’re in the middle of all-consuming projects that demand nearly everything you have. In short bursts, this level of dedication and focus is hugely beneficial. The challenge comes in when you don’t give yourself time to breathe between the projects.
When you find yourself exhausted, irritated and ready to throw in the towel on the work you love (preferably before you get to this point), consider carving out time every day, week and month to unplug and breathe. Doing so may just be what you need to resurrect your joy, and produce better results in the process.
Here’s to your greatness,
P.S. This year I am raising $10K for Swim Across America 2017 to help save the lives of those for whom traditional cancer treatment has not worked. Please consider donating to my cause here – http://www.swimacrossamerica.org/site/TR?px=1360128&fr_id=4376&pg=personal