|Cutting Edge Ideas from 2500 Years Ago|
Q4 Mon Amour (Burn, Baby)
Regardless of whether or not your fiscal year actually ends this December 31st, most of you are pushing pretty hard right about now. You're in Disco Inferno mode, filled with adrenaline, strutting your stuff all over the place, jamming hard to the beat before your white suit starts to tarnish, the night is declared officially over, and the best dancers in the house are sent home with the prize.
Which in itself isn't bad. Working hard can have its rewards. Trouble is, I've seen a lot of genuinely exhausted people out there during the past couple of months. Several of you have written to me. Business is pretty good in many quarters, but some of you are starting to wonder how much longer you can pour it on this hard before you start feeling less like the young Travolta and more like Charlize Theron in full Monster make-up.
I've written a lot over the past two years about how to manage stress, about how to process the moments of your life in a way that brings joy and good results rather than fatigue and cognitive dissonance. But what do you actually do when cracks begin to appear in the foundation? When no matter how hard you try to renew your energy every day, it becomes harder to just "keep on pushing?"
The answer, however simplistic it might seem, is obvious: Don't push so hard! Be kind to yourself. Get a life. Enjoy!
C'mon, you say. That's impossible. Let's face it. There are only a few weeks left to the year with a lot of big holidays looming in there and at the end of that time — we will all be judged. We've got a lot riding on this!
Trust me, I know. This is my 30th lap around the track. But where is it written that you will actually achieve more by burning yourself out? And what good will getting there be if you find yourself sitting at home staring at the walls with adrenaline overload?
All of us would love to have a successful finish to this year and not burn out in the process. But where does one begin?
Begin by being extra good to yourself. Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron, in her wise book Start Where You Are, puts it this way:
The circle is either virtuous or vicious. Heal yourself and send that out to the world and you will get one kind of result. Harm yourself and — inevitably, at some point — send that out, and you will experience a very different result, one that will be much less appealing both to you and others.
Here are some other things to keep in mind if you find yourself seriously flagging:
We're so used to killing ourselves this time of year that we forget that we might actually be killing ourselves. We have an internalized belief that, unless we are "crazed" like everyone else around us at work, we won't hit our goals. And it's not necessarily true. Twenty minutes of meditation in the morning and an hour less of work can make you more effective than you've ever been in your life.
So when your Disco Inferno turns into a Living Hell, remember what was written 2500 years ago in the Tao Te Ching:
Oversharpen the blade and the edge will soon blunt
Retire when the work is done.
This is the way of heaven."