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6 Signs You Might be Overextending Yourself

6 Signs You Might be Overextending Yourself

“He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.”  ~Raymond Hull

What does overextending yourself look like?  It resembles lunch on your lap, misplaced keys and wearing your shirt inside out.  It looks like an elastic band that’s about to snap, and you can already anticipate the sting.  Obviously, if you want to avoid the pain, it’s best you learn how to release the tension.

You need to hear this: if you’re being flung in every direction, then you’re not really following through on anything or doing anything particularly well.

Your internal foundation will be shaky;  health, money, relationships and work will eventually crack.  What’s even worse than that is the speed with which your life will fly by without enjoying all the simple moments, these moments which are your life.

We are all busy–relationships, kids, work and friends, and it’s good to be a go-getter, but when your Martha Stewart persona has been replaced with a frenzied Wile E Coyote, things are about to blow up.

Consider this scenario:  The shrill voice of your good friend booms through the phone complaining about the stress of planning their exotic European vacation.  Wait a second–what did she just say?  Did she just say she needs you watch their dog?  That’s right, the 120 pound Marley-and-Me replica; the one that chews, drools and tries to hump your sweet golden retriever.

The last ounce of energy has just been sucked out of you.

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Okay, stop right there!

It’s okay to admit that you can’t take this on right now.

If you agree to babysit the Marley-and-Me devil, you will resent your friend for it.  You will silently curse the nerve of her to drop this responsibility on you when you are in the middle of a major work project.  This is going to strain your relationship.

Your family will take the brunt of this decision.

How will you respond?  My bet is in two weeks time, you’ll be chasing Marley off your poor retriever with a broom.

We have a choice on how to respond to others’ demands. We are under no obligation.  Our first priority must be our own needs.

I know you want to be helpful and agreeable. You likely hate conflict and have no idea even how to say NO.  And I know that most of all, you don’t want to lose out on opportunities.

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If we don’t recognize and satisfy our own needs then we are no good to anyone else.  Like the elastic you will eventually snap.  And then you’ll be of no use to your kids, work or your friend’s dog.

If any of this sounds like you, then you need to make some changes.

1.  You spend time worrying about time.

This is the first clue. If you stress about even a five-minute change in schedule, jump right down to the solutions.  You are overextended.

2.  You eat on the go.

The last time you sat down for a proper meal was the family Thanksgiving dinner.  Really?

3.  You’re not getting enough sleep. 

You’re so tired that all you can think about is sleep, but ironically, you’re so busy that you don’t get enough sleep.  When you do blindly fall into bed at night, you wake up at the witching hour, compiling to-do lists while wrestling with your pillow.

That’s right, you’re starting to resemble a zombie.

4.  You don’t have time for friends, favors or hobbies. 

You haven’t seen your friends in months, haven’t had time to phone your siblings in weeks and can’t even remember the last time you did something spontaneous.

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If you’re starting to resent people asking for favors, it might be time to consider cutting back.

5.  Your Health.

Are you experiencing muscle tension, back aches or insomnia?  While these symptoms could be from a number of issues, overextending yourself will cause stress, which we all know is the big “silent killer.”

6.  Can’t handle changes.

You want, no, let me rephrase, you need everything to go exactly as planned, and it’s not going to go as planned.  One little shift and like a Jenga puzzle, it’s all going to come toppling down around you.

If you’ve crossed over into this muddy territory, you’ll need to consider making some changes.

You will need to write a list to assess what changes you can make.  I know you don’t have time for lists–that’s the problem, right?  Well consider taking a day off work, or wake up extra early tomorrow.

Start with outer changes. Maybe hire a housekeeper or a babysitter or maybe take a break from social engagements.  But along with outer changes, there are also some inner changes that will need to happen.

Let’s get back to a balanced life, shall we?

1.  Put you first.

Put your own needs above all others.  Much like in a plane, always put your mask on first; you are no good to anyone if you break down.

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You are a mother/father, wife/husband, sister/brother and friend, but these roles don’t define who you are.  Do you something you love once a week.  Even if its just curling up with a good book.

2.  Laugh.

Stop taking life so seriously.  No matter what’s happening, life will go on; stop causing yourself unneeded stress.

3.  Learn how to be assertive–say NO.

Helpful hints to saying “no” without causing a rift:

  • Tell them “maybe,” then take the proper time to think it over.
  • Be honest and explain that you can’t commit because you have previous priorities.
  • Soften the blow by saying, “I’d love to but…”
  • Give them a suggestion: “I’m not the best person to help you with that because…”

4.  Ignore Expectations.  

Accept that what others think you should do might not be what you want or need.  And that’s okay.  You need to learn that what other people love, like golf or skiing, you really don’t enjoy.  Don’t be afraid to be honest.  Lose your “shoulds” and realize that you don’t have to do anything.

5.  You’re not Perfect.

If you miss a spot on the bathroom floor, it’s okay.  Being perfect can replace any sense of fun with a nagging, soul-sucking, endless effort that never gets anything quite right. Stop obsessing; perfectionism will only leave you frustrated.

6.  Make yourself a realistic schedule.

Take a deep breath and focus on one task at a time.  Fully complete each task before moving onto the next.

So take care of yourself today.

Take time to:

  • breathe
  • meditate
  • read
  • contemplate
  • relax
  • think
  • laugh
  • dream
  • do something that will make YOU feel happy!

What items can you streamline in your life to make things smoother?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Tina Williamson

Writer and creator of Mindfulmazing

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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