Running on Empty
I don’t know about you, but for me, since the beginning of September, I feel as though I have been running at a breakneck speed and just last week, I realized I was running out of fuel. I literally had three conversations with close friends that led to me crying about feeling as though I had nothing left. I truly felt like my gas tank was empty.
In my life, I can only think of a handful of times where I felt as though I was running on empty. I am one of those people who typically has a number of projects going on at once, and I usually embrace the crazy that ensues with my busy schedule.
History of Busyness
My friends and family joke about the Shannon update emails they get every year or two that includes a laundry list of big life events like moves, job changes and new projects. When I send these emails, I usually get a few replies asking me if I’m okay or stressed with all of the life changes, and I brush them off and respond that this is me, and I am used to this pace.
A year ago, I left a large wealth management firm to start my own company; I also started this blog and wrote a book. It was a huge leap for me, and as any solopreneur knows, the first year (or maybe every year) is a scary one; and my best solution for combating the fear was to work even harder.
Saying Yes Too Much
In addition to taking on new clients, I took on new job opportunities and writing opportunities. I said “yes” to everything for fear that the one thing I said no to would be the path that I needed to take to grow my company and my career.
As I took on each project and client, my work schedule began to take hold of my life. Working on the weekends has always been a part of my routine; however, my weekend work grew from an hour here and there to five or more hours a day.
Two weeks ago, an important opportunity presented itself and I dropped many tasks to complete it. I was happy that I did it; however, the project led to a ripple effect of work getting backed up to the point that I didn’t know when I would finish it all.
A little over a week ago was my 11-year wedding anniversary, and my hubby planned a weekend getaway for the two of us. He had an early day at school on Friday and the plan was for me to pick him up at 1pm and head out. I know he was looking forward to it; however, I was dreading it. How could I leave work at 1pm, and how was I going to explain to him that I would be working while we were away celebrating 11 years together?
I worked like a mad woman that Friday morning, and I was late to pick him up; however, we were on the road by 2pm. On the drive to the bed and breakfast, we started having a conversation about our workloads and the fact that we felt torn. Not only did I feel like I was running on empty, but hubby also felt like he was running on empty.
I shared a few more tears of exhaustion, frustration and fears and hubby, like he always does, listened with compassion, and in that car ride we decided that we would just let everything go for a few days and try to recover. We also determined that we both needed to get better about saying no.
When we got back home on Sunday night, I immediately looked at my projects and started prioritizing what was going on, and I realized that I had to give myself a break in some areas. I didn’t feel good about letting go of any of the projects; however, I knew it was something I needed to do to fill up my gas tank.
We Can’t Forget to Refuel
I am writing this post as a little bit of therapy for myself and a reminder to others that when you feel like you are running on empty, you need to take the time out of your fast paced routine to figure out how you can refuel. Sometimes we run so fast that we don’t even realize we are running on empty until it is too late and we mentally collapse.
For me, I needed to allow myself to take some time away from work to recharge. I also needed to give myself a break and accept that I would not accomplish every task on my list, and understand that it was okay. I also need to start saying no more than yes at least until I have completely refueled the tank.
Just as it’s not efficient for a car to run while low on fuel, it’s not efficient for us to run while low on time and energy. Because of the choices I made last week to refuel, I have opened up more time in my life this week, and I am using this time to recharge and refuel so I am emotionally and physically ready to tackle what I need to. Because I know I have this time, I am already feeling better about my workload, and I am thankful I have reassessed my situation.
PS: My podcast, Martinis and Your Money – Living a Better Life One Cocktail at a Time is live on i-Tunes. Check it out and download so I can make the “New and Noteworthy” podcast list