With my book’s long-awaited launch finally right around the corner on September 17, I attended a personal development retreat to get focused, centered and ready to enjoy the flurry of activity scheduled to surround the big event. Early in the day, we were instructed to look in the mirror. Staring back at me was the face of a spent old woman. My first thought was, “I’m so exhausted from all my work and there are big hills to climb with the book coming out, so I’d better rally some energy to keep up with all the demands.” My next thought was, “If you’re turning your dream of publishing a book into a nightmare of tasks and responsibilities, you are in big trouble!” Good thing that retreat came when it did and I caught myself in time to refocus my attitude and intention from doggedly meeting obligations to joyfully introducing my work to the world. The coming months are something to savor, not endure.
How Much Do You Give?
Where did that exhaustion come from? In the very next exercise at that retreat, we started by estimating what percent effort we normally put into our endeavors. Most people said somewhere between 20-50%. I guessed about 80%. Then we put that to the test by tackling a task that was just beyond our ability to complete to see just how strong our will really is. At the end, when we compared our actual effort to our earlier guess, I had an epiphany. I gave 100% effort. What’s more, I realized that I routinely create a to do list that includes about twice what my full effort can produce almost daily. No wonder I’m tired.
Do you set unreasonable expectations for yourself and then feel disappointed when you don’t meet them after even after giving your all-out effort? That’s a trap we need to stop setting for ourselves.
Know How Much Is Enough
Holding our employees and ourselves to high standards of quality and productivity is laudable and a hallmark of high achievers. I’m even a fan of pushing beyond your comfort zone to stretch and grow. But we must be mindful of what’s feasible and embrace the concept of enough. This isn’t about settling for a less-than-stellar result. It’s about focusing our efforts to get the most important things done and done well and declaring victory when that’s achieved. Rather than being dissatisfied when a whole boatload of “nice to dos” don’t get done, we can experience the joy of knowing we’ve accomplished the “must dos’’.
Joy Strategy: Define Your Own Extraordinary Enough
Have you ever taken a moment to define for yourself how much is enough? So many of us are so busy chasing more for the sake of more that we don’t notice what we already have.
Take a step back and examine your expectations. You might even want to look into a mirror and really see what’s staring back at you. Be mindful of what you’re demanding of yourself and others. Is it reasonably doable with your full effort? I’m not suggesting that you aim for mediocrity just because that’s readily accomplished. Testing your limits and giving yourself the opportunity to move beyond what you thought was possible can be a great gift. But when you throw off the limiting shackles of self-doubt and give that endeavor your all, take time to reflect on your experiences and value your effort and achievement. If the result falls short of where you need it to be, regroup and develop another strategy for addressing it. When you’ve truly given 100%, there’s reason right there to be satisfied.
So take time to determine what enough means for you. For my book launch, that means meeting all contractual obligations, prioritizing speaking engagements where the audience is most likely to benefit from its message, and steadily working my way through a well-organized, thoughtful promotional plan. I will give everything my all and take time to fully experience each event.
What Is Your Enough?
Please take a moment to share what you discovered when you stopped to ask.