If you’re overwhelmed or simply have no more time in your schedule, then you are probably a highly overextended person.
Today I talk about the habits that highly overextended people have and how you can avoid being overextended yourself.
This is part 1 of a 2 part episode. Part 2 here.
Today’s quote is by Marcus Buckingham and it’s this:
“Many of us feel stress and get overwhelmed not because we’re taking on too much, but because we’re taking on too little of what really strengthens us.”
I like to look at the percentage of time I spend doing different things throughout the day and determine if I am balancing all my tasks, or if I am overextending myself.
Sometimes after a few hours of writing another post for my site, I’ll get really tired. In fact, I’ll even start dozing off a little.
When I snap out of it, I’ll say things to myself like, “I must continue. I have to get as much accomplished as I possibly can!”
So I’ll sit there even longer, typing and feeling sleepy.
I’ve learned that falling asleep at my keyboard is a good sign that I spend more time working than I do taking care of myself. I have enough work to last me every waking hour of the day, and if I didn’t take the time I needed to refresh and re-energize myself, I’d simply work all the time until I collapsed.
I’m not as bad as I used to be. After all, I had a 40 hour per week job, then I came home and worked on The Overwhelmed Brain another 40 hours a week. It took a lot to create the foundation I have now, but I went through the effort because I believed in it, and also because I simply forced myself to do it no matter what.
Turns out I have pretty good stamina as I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I did if I didn’t have the energy I needed to do it.
But energy is the key to happiness and satisfaction.
By energy, I mean you feel like you’re accomplishing something, and have a purpose. Time flies and before you know it, night has fallen and you haven’t eaten anything all day.
The amount of energy you have to accomplish tasks determines whether or not those tasks strengthen you or weaken you.
Strength comes when you want to do the things you do, and weakness comes when you feel like you have to do those things.
I get this, for sure. There have been weeks I simply didn’t want to work on the next episode. There have been times when I’d sit behind my keyboard and say, “I have no idea what I’m going to talk about this week.”
But, I usually manage to find something interesting, and you tune in to find out what it is every week.
Sometimes what I talk about applies to your life, sometimes not. But no matter what, you’re getting everything I can possibly put into a show like this.
But how does that happen, even on the weeks where I just want to sit back and relax for a few days? How can I go from no energy to bursts of energy that allow me to create a sometimes hour long episode?
And when I just want to relax and let the days go by, where do I get the creativity to be able to talk about a subject for that long?
One thing I realized throughout the years is that when I’m tired, I’m not creative and I don’t feel like working. When I’m awake, I’m extremely creative and the words flow out of me.
But, I get tired because I don’t get enough good stuff and I get too much bad stuff. Well, not “bad”, but draining in some way.
We extend ourselves beyond our limits all the time. This is great when you’re training to be an Olympic athlete, but isn’t so great when you work behind a desk or lay tar on roofs all day.
You reach a threshold and become overextended, tired and sometimes even lazy because you’ve been working so hard. And when you have a day of work that is very challenging, whether physically, mentally or both, you just want to come home, crash on the couch or bed, and let the world happen to you instead of you always “happening” to the world.
In the past, even up to a few months ago, when I would get tired, I’d drink more caffeine. This would boost me, then I’d crash and feel tired again. Adding more caffeine after that sometimes gave the opposite effect, and soon I was crashing even harder because my system couldn’t handle any more sugar or caffeine.
So I decided to take a nap one day. And this was no 20 minute nap, this was a quick, 5 minute power nap. In fact, I have a desk in my bedroom and right behind my chair is the bed. I actually turned my chair around and used the bed as a giant pillow.
I stayed sitting in the chair, put my head down and fell asleep. But as soon as I fell asleep, I woke up again. When I did, I felt like I got a few hours sleep.
This is what’s called a power nap. It’s something you can do when you are getting too drowsy, and it can make all the difference in the world.
I’ll be typing and falling asleep. But if I take a 5 minute power nap, when I awake I’m refreshed with lots of energy.
I’m not sure what happens physically, I don’t know the science behind it, but I do believe the body does sort of a reset thinking it got more sleep than it really did.
This is something anyone of us can do, even if we are at work. I used to work for a company and when I got tired, I would go into the break room and close my eyes for five or ten minutes. Sometimes I could fall asleep, but most of the time I couldn’t.
But here’s what I did to help me relax (you’re gonna love this): I imagined I was doing the task that made me tired.
So, if I was working on a spreadsheet and I was getting sleepy, I’d go into the break room, close my eyes, and imagine myself working on that same spreadsheet.
This is very effective. I used to do this on the road too. I’d get so tired driving that I’d pull into a rest area, close my eyes and imagine I was driving. This got me relaxed right away.
Even if you don’t fall asleep, it’s still a good exercise because the body is at rest. Getting tired is a signal from your body to honor itself, so when you can do that, even 5 minutes gives it a chance to refresh.
So remember the quote I read to you earlier:
“Many of us feel stress and get overwhelmed not because we’re taking on too much, but because we’re taking on too little of what really strengthens us.”
We all need sleep, and many of us feel like we never get enough. Sleep is one of the most important steps in taking on something that strengthens us.
If you’re one of those people that thinks they never get enough sleep, take a look at some of the sleep studies they’ve done. Some people believe that we’d do fine on 5 to 7 hours of sleep while others think 8 to 9.
It’s going to be different for everyone, for sure. But, if you think you’re not getting enough sleep and you always feel tired, which does lead to a feeling of being overextended (the subject of today’s episode), I have one more suggestion. Get Hal Elrod’s book called, The Miracle Morning.
I had him on the show many moons ago, and he talks about waking up early performing the same ritual every day. I thought he was crazy, but over and over again, I hear people who’ve read the book actually want to get up earlier, and they are energized throughout the day.
At least check it out, because it could change your life.
My interview with Hal Elrod here.
Getting high quality sleep may not be possible for everyone, but naps are accessible for most people, even if it’s 5 minutes alone in your car.
But whether or not you can get the right amount of good sleep, let’s talk about what else highly overextended people do that may not be benefitting them next.
This episode is titled The Seven Habits of Highly Overextended People. Yes, it’s a play on Stephen Covey’s, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I figured it would be a fun play on words, plus it allows me to approach the topic of being overextended in a unique way.
By telling you what the habits of overextended people are, maybe you can avoid being overextended yourself. We all get overextended from time to time, so there’s no one, true method that will eradicate it completely. But knowing what not to do will give you food for thought.
And just so you’re aware, this is part 1 as I had too much information to share on this topic, so I split the show into two parts.
Next week, part 2.
There’s something I’ve heard people tell me I do on this show that overextends them, and that is saturate them with information.
You’ve heard me do this right? You’ll still be on the last item I talked about, and I’m already jumping into the third or fourth item of the show.
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I do this on purpose.
Sometimes I coach people one on one this way too. I can pummel a client with piece after piece of information, all designed to help them in some way, but they can get worn out.
Some of my episodes will do this to you too. I know this is true, because I’ve heard from people who say, “I love your show, but sometimes I have to listen to it several times to be able to process everything you talk about.”
Yes, sometimes I keep talking even though you might still be processing the last thing or the thing before that. But here’s why:
I don’t want to give you a chance to analyze what I’m telling you so that you talk yourself out of healing and growing.
I’m sorry I do this, because I don’t mean to saturate you. But I promise when I do it, the only reason I do it is to get you past obstacles and beyond emotional hurts that you may be holding on to.
So if you ever feel saturated because I say a lot with little time to let you reflect, know that everything I say is going in, even when you don’t hear it. That’s because your brain is always on.
And knowing that the brain is always there, listening and recording things, even when you aren’t consciously aware it’s doing it, you don’t have to feel so overextended.
Fortunately, you can listen to episodes over and over again to get what you missed. This is something I recommend, because there may be something vital you that you do need to hear.
But I also know that even if you don’t hear it and aren’t processing it consciously, it’s still going in. Even now, I’m just talking and talking, but I’m also connecting with you to letting you know that your health and well being is extremely important to me.
After all, the healthier and happier you are, the more time you get to enjoy life and the less time you spend working on yourself.
I don’t know how many people I’ve met that tell me, “I just want peace in my life. I’m so sick of working on myself, I’m at an age where I should be done. Just give me more peace in my life so I can stop all this personal growth BS.”
I hear you! I completely resonate with this. This is where I want you to be too. I want you to get beyond all the crap holding you back from creating the life you want. If that means you’re done listening to me, then I support that, because that means you have no more emotional triggers or repressed negative emotions.
The day you’re able to wake up and go, “Wow, it’s gonna be a good day” is probably the day you start creating your life – or at least molding it to the way you want it.
Imagine sculpting the life you want everyday? Sounds like a great plan.
So back to my point, I will sometimes keep talking beyond the points I make so that you are saturated. Saturating you can make you feel tired, but that’s because you’re processing. Once that tiredness goes away, you awaken to new thoughts and ideas.
The day you have new thoughts and ideas is when you realize you’re finally not overextended and you can apply yourself in other areas.
The first habit of highly overextended people is to get less quality sleep. We already talked about that, but I’m reiterating the importance of this habit.
I know, it’s old advice we hear over and over again, but remember my comments on the power nap. Sometimes closing your eyes for just 5 minutes is all it takes to carry you for the next 4 hours.
The second habit of highly overextended people is oversaturating yourself with too much work, information or tasks. I know, I just told you I do that on purpose, but I’m doing it in a controlled, precise way that is designed to help you heal and grow.
The kind of saturation I’m talking about is when you don’t have enough of a foundation of knowledge or experience from which to build.
Have you ever been in a classroom environment where the teacher went on and on about something you absolutely didn’t understand at all? You could not relate to the references the teacher used, you couldn’t understand how they got to a certain place with the teachings and felt lost.
This is oversaturation. When you do not have enough of the foundational knowledge to learn something new, you will not learn it, and you will feel frustrated.
I remember taking a computer networking class where we were learning to program computer switches and routers. If you don’t know what those are, just pretend they’re the most complicated pieces of computer equipment you’ve ever seen.
At least, they were to me. The teacher was nice, but in order to understand what she was talking about, I had to know the foundational knowledge of what she was teaching.
I quickly became overwhelmed because I had no idea what she was talking about. She was using terms I was unfamiliar with and teaching concepts I could not comprehend.
I had a feeling I missed an entire section or something because I wasn’t getting it. I also felt stupid because it seemed the entire class was getting it except me.
So I sat there a week, trying to learn the material, and could not get it at all.
I returned back to work and told them that I could not pass the test because the class was over my head. They paid for this class so that I would be certified in the equipment I was learning, but I just didn’t have enough foundational knowledge to learn the course.
I felt pretty bad, but it was an eye opener. I realized that some of the computer equipment I worked on was simply out of my reach. I had to apply myself if I was going to learn it, but I didn’t want to.
And because I didn’t want to apply myself, I could never learn what was being taught.
When you don’t have a desire to learn what you need to learn, you will feel overwhelmed. The desire to learn something new can supersede your disbelief that you can learn it, and actually get you to a point where you feel comfortable with it.
But if you don’t have much of a desire to learn, you probably won’t.
This second habit of highly overextended people is saturating yourself with something you’re not interested in.
You will feel overextended when you do something, especially repeatedly, that you have no desire to do. This will wear you out. You’ll get tired and it will affect everything else you do.
This is one of the important steps to learning what not to do, because every component affects the whole machine. If you’re too tired, it will be hard to learn new things. If you’re being saturated with information that you don’t understand, it will make you tired and get you feeling overwhelmed. The machine of who and what you are will be affected.
So the idea is to evaluate what you do in your life now and see if you can either change the saturation level (how much you’re exposed to), or completely change what you’re being exposed to.
A good one that most people can relate to is work. I remember working for K-Mart when I was a teenager. Man, I really hated going to work. And when I was on the floor, I was always so tired. But, I kept going back because it was money.
And money is something we have to keep manifesting in our lives somehow. But, I just felt oversaturated with K-Mart. It wasn’t their fault, I just wasn’t right for the job. I needed something that stimulated me.
For some people, a job at a department store is stimulating and rewarding. For me, it was just tiring. I didn’t like any aspect of it.
I realize you may have a job you can’t quit but also feel saturated. And if you do, what can you do to make it slightly less undesirable? Can you change a routine or talk to your boss and ask if something can be a little different?
I worked at a job once where I told them I was taking on too much. Instead of seeing me as incompetent, they listened and decided they needed to hire someone to take over some of my responsibilities.
They listened to me, and I was fortunate they did so. This doesn’t always happen, but the changes would never have happened had I not talked with my superiors.
So I’m a proponent of bringing up issues, even if they might cost me my job.
But I figured if I went on the way I was, I would probably lose my job anyway! So there was little to no risk. After all, either way very soon I could be packing my things up in a box and walking out for the last time.
Or… I could actually change things for the better so that I could give myself some reprieve of the saturation.
Of course, it’s possible nothing would have happened when I talked with them, but the process of asking is what leads to the next habit.
The third habit of highly overextended people is that they say “yes” to everything.
Want to feel overextended really fast? Just say “Yes” to everything that comes your way.
Overextendedness is almost always your own doing. After all, if you didn’t say “yes” to so many things, you might actually have time to yourself. Wouldn’t want that!
But for the most part, the more you say “yes” to, the more overextended you will be. This one is kind of a no-brainer, but many people have a hard time following this advice.
Why? Because saying “no” to someone means that you are honoring yourself over someone else. And people who have trouble saying “no” actually believe that the needs of others are more important than their own needs.
There are times when it’s true, of course. You might run into a burning building to save a baby. But when someone else’s welfare isn’t involved, you have every right to honor what you want for yourself.
What happens typically is that you’re afraid of what the other person will do or say if you reject them.
Many fears stem from stories that we convince ourselves to be true.
The problem is many of those stories are just stories. I lived most of my life with the fear of saying “no” to people. I thought if I said “no”, they wouldn’t like me, or they’d leave me or fire me, or whatever.
No matter what, it was never a good result in my mind. My story is that something bad would happen, and nothing good would come from saying “no”.
But I remember the first time I chose to say “no”. I’ve told this story before so forgive me if you’ve already heard it. I was at work, and my two bosses were talking about another employee. I didn’t agree with what they were saying about that employee, so I decided to speak up.
I said, “You’re not here most of the time, so there’s no way you could know what he’s doing.”
This wasn’t exactly a “no”, but it was a confrontation, something that us “yes people” hate. I decided that it was more right to speak up for someone and risk my job than it was to be quiet and let the conversation continue.
When I spoke up, they both stopped and looked at me. And one of them said, “This is exactly what we need to hear. We aren’t here all the time and we could use your input.”
They actually appreciated me standing up and speaking up. Speaking up is something that happens so rarely in many work situations because people have this fear that speaking up will get them fired.
In most cases, the opposite is true. Not in all cases, so don’t get me wrong. But I’m willing to bet more times than not, a manager wants their employees to speak up and let them know what’s going on.
A manager’s job is to keep things together and keep the team motivated, and if he or she doesn’t have all the data, their job gets harder.
At least, that’s what I figured when I spoke up. And because I spoke up, I was treated with more respect and given more responsibilities, eventually leading to a promotion.
This isn’t exactly an example of saying “no”, but it is directly related. We typically don’t want to say “no” because of the consequences we paint in our mind.
Sometimes our story will come true and most of the time it won’t. The key to getting to a point where saying “no” is easy is two fold:
- Be comfortable with any consequence knowing that you’ll get through it no matter what
- Honor yourself by asking yourself the following question: “Is this right?”
When you can be comfortable with any consequence, honoring yourself is easy. But there are lots of people that don’t like that option. They don’t like that their spouse could leave or they could get fired or something worse.
But this stuff happens regardless! People leave us. We lose jobs. We lose money. All this stuff happens to so many of us, it’s just a matter of time before it happens. It’s not always the case, but that’s just the nature of the universe.
People die and we have to live with it. We lose loved ones, jobs, money, and so much more. It just happens. It hurts, and it happens. But it can’t be denied.
So we can go through life hoping things like that don’t happen to us, and spend most of our life not honoring ourselves just to double our chances that bad things won’t happen, or we can honor ourselves and get more of what we want out of life regardless of the consequences.
Look at it this way: You can ask, “Is this right?” in any situation and choose to honor yourself by deciding on the best course of action for you, like I did when I confronted my bosses. Or you can think, “I don’t want the consequence, so I’m not going to honor what I’m really feeling right now. I’ll choose to get stepped on instead.”
I know I’m being a little harsh, but when you choose not to honor yourself, you are instead choosing a minor form of self-abuse. And this behavior repeated again and again overextends you, and you become a doormat who’s worn out and tired most of the time.
This habit closely ties in with the fourth habit of highly overextended people which is:
Obligate yourself to everyone.
Time after time, I see people I love do this. They not only can’t say “no”, they also put themselves on every list to volunteer, or raise their hand to help out whenever there’s a call for people, or sacrifice their own personal time and commit to doing things they believe in… or not.
Like those who can’t say “no”, people who love committing and obligating themselves to things don’t know when to say “no”. These are people that may or may not be able to say no, but maybe aren’t organized enough to realize they have no more time.
My girlfriend is great at this. She’s so kind and charitable that she’ll commit to things without realizing she has no more time to commit. She somehow gets everything done, but ends up collapsing at the end of the day from exhaustion.
When you commit without thinking because you’re just that way, you will eventually burn out and won’t want to do anything. Or, you won’t enjoy the stuff you’ve committed to and just go through the motions until your obligations are met.
Highly overextended people will commit before thinking. So what you need to do is simple. The next time you feel like saying yes to something, ask yourself this one question first:
Do I have time to take a break with my current schedule?
That’s it. The next time someone comes up to you and wants you to help with something, or an opportunity comes your way, ask yourself if you have time to take a break with your current schedule.
If you don’t have the time to take a break with your current schedule, then committing to yet another thing will push you over the top and you’ll become overextended.
You could ask yourself if you have any free time to fit this next thing in, but you’ll probably say yes even if you don’t, that’s why it’s better to ask if you have time to take a break.
If you have time to take a break, then you can figure out what to do next. You can fill that break time with another obligation, or you can keep your breaks and stay with your current routine.
Many overextended people don’t take too much time to consider what else they have on their plate, so by focusing on if they even have time for a break allows them to quickly assess their priorities.
Of course, we can make time for almost anything, can’t we? I mean, I’d lose a few hours of sleep to help out a friend. I’d spend more than I could afford save someone’s life. There are things we will do even though it will overextend us.
Sometimes our needs do take a back seat to what other people need, so we step in and give more than we think we have.
This reminds me when I was taking martial arts classes in the 90s. The class was an hour long, but we did so much cardio that in about 20 minutes I was exhausted before we even started practicing any moves.
But, every time I found the energy to continue. I’d be breathing hard ready to lay on the floor, but still found a way to get through the session. Almost all of us have more than we think we do. I think it’s because our body gives us a head’s up that it’s time to stop and rest. However, what it doesn’t tell us is that we have a reserve tank full of energy just in case we need it.
You know, like big trucks have an extra gas tank in case the first one goes empty? Our bodies do too. Even at our most exhausted, we can spring into action if an emergency arrives.
We have a reserve tank of energy, but have to be careful not to use that reserve in normal circumstances. Overextended people use this reserve purposefully. They know they have it, but they don’t use it as intended. Our reserves kick in when absolutely necessary, so be careful not to put so much on your plate that you deplete those too.
Learning to say “no” is a huge step forward. When you need to honor yourself, say no.
“Is this right for me?” is the question that helps you determine what your personal boundaries are on the matter. And this question, “Do I have time to take a break with my current schedule?” is what helps you assess if you actually have enough time to put anymore on your schedule.
Let’s go on to habit #5
The number 5 habit of highly overextended people is this:
Once they commit, they never quit
About a year ago, a friend and I decided that we were going to create a course on how to podcast for people who wanted to get into podcasting. It was a great idea and the market was ready to get a product like this.
So we fleshed out a lot of the details and started moving forward with the project. There was only one problem… Shortly after I committed to doing it, I realized it was taking most of my time and energy.
On top of that, I also realized that I didn’t want to focus on creating podcast courses, I wanted to focus on creating new episodes of this show. But, I really needed to create an income, so I went forward building the podcast course.
Day after day, for about a month, I felt stressed. I felt like the podcast course was taking up so much time that the rest of my life was suffering. I regretted committing, and now I felt stuck.
Overextended people feel stuck, because they don’t want to break their commitments. And I was definitely overextended then.
Thinking about working on the course just made me feel bad. I felt almost sick, because deep down I didn’t want to do it. I mean, I wanted to and still may one day, but I knew I had committed to something that was going to take up way too much of my time.
Back then, I did not have time for a break. I committed to a friend, and now I felt like disappearing from the face of the earth just to get out of the commitment.
But, instead of leaving the country and changing my identity, I decided to do the next best thing: Be honest.
I tell you what, after you commit to something, telling the person you committed it with that you don’t want to do it anymore is one of the hardest things to do.
He was invested in this project, and so was I. We were both moving forward with it. Except, I no longer wanted any part of it.
What was I going to do? What was I going to say to him?
I knew that if I didn’t say anything, I’d continue to feel worse, and I’d start losing passion for almost everything else. That’s what happens, you get stuck in one thing you hate, and you lose passion for everything else.
Does this sound like any relationship you’ve ever been in? You can probably relate!
I felt completely stuck, but I had an option – one that I didn’t want to consider but had to if I was going to save myself. I chose to be honest and drop out from the project.
I called up my friend and told him that I didn’t realize how much time and effort it was going to take, and I’ve lost my motivation to continue doing the project.
I was expecting a lot of anger and feelings of betrayal, but what I got was sympathy.
I was not expecting that.
He said, “Oh I had no idea. Hey, you need to take care of yourself. I completely understand that. Let’s put this on hold indefinitely. Don’t worry about it. I get it!”
I was floored.
All this time, I was holding onto the terrible feelings of going forward with the project, but I was holding on to something even more terrifying: Telling him I was dropping out.
What makes us so fearful of quitting something we committed to? What is that feeling? I certainly didn’t want to let him down, so that was a part of it. But why was it so painful and hard to just tell him that I can’t continue?
When I analyze that scenario now, it all comes down to one thing:
Everyone will think I’m a bad person.
I mean, not just my friend, but everyone will think I’m a bad person. They will think I don’t keep my promises and don’t follow through. They will think I’m a failure and not trustworthy.
I’ve spent a lot of my life building trust with people, not breaking promises. And there I was breaking a promise.
But what ultimately has to win, and here’s the lesson, is that if you don’t take care of yourself first and foremost, you are failing yourself.
And that’s why I made the choice to abandon the project. I committed to it, realized my mistake, found that I wasn’t honoring myself because I felt so bad every time I worked on it, and decided that honoring myself would bring me back to equilibrium.
Equilibrium is that homeostatic state of well being. It’s the balance between good and bad, and high and low. When you’re outside equilibrium, you’re out of sync with what you intrinsically know is best for you.
In other words, if you feel bad, it probably is bad.
That doesn’t mean you don’t push yourself to get better. The best workouts can sometimes be painful and challenging, but if over time you don’t feel progress and you only feel worse, you’re not pushing yourself to get better, you’re just pushing yourself like a bully.
I decided to stop being a bully to myself, as dramatic as that sounds. I chose instead to be kind to myself, forgive myself for the decision I was about to make, and just face the music. I told my friend, scared as hell about his reaction, and found out who he really was deep down inside.
I was lucky. I found someone who honored me honoring me, if that makes sense. That’s the best kind of friend – one who will support you through your struggles even if they themselves are affected by your decisions.
I was struggling, he saw it, and he supported my decision.
It doesn’t always work out so elegantly, because many people in that situation would go, “What? You want to quit now? Why are you doing this to me? What the hell is your problem? We have already started and work has already been done, you can’t leave now!”
This happens more times than not, and it can’t be avoided. But, sometimes you just have to honor yourself no matter what so that you can save yourself.
This is one of the true tests in honoring yourself, by quitting something you’ve committed to.
Following through on commitments is a sign of integrity and trust.
So think about this for a minute… When you commit to something, you are telling the person that you are trustworthy and will pull through.
You are honest because you are a person of your word.
This of course weighs heavily on you, so you end up staying committed long after you should sometimes. But what’s going on inside of you, are you still being honest? Are you still a person of integrity if you don’t want to commit anymore?
If you really are a person of integrity, then you have to pull that integrity out and be truthful. People you’ve committed to deserve the truth, otherwise all they get are your lies.
That’s harsh, but it’s reality. If you really don’t want to do something anymore and it’s making you sick, then you can be honest and share your feelings or continue being dishonest and moving forward with something you may hate doing.
Where’s the integrity in that?
Don’t be afraid to quit what you commit to if it’s eating away at you inside. There are over 7 billion people on the planet, and if you don’t do it, someone else can.
I know there are circumstances where there is no choice in the matter, and that will happen and you just have to accept things as they are for now, but remember that many times you are not the only person that is capable of completing your tasks.
I was always afraid of quitting my job for years because I truly believed they would never be able to replace me. I wasn’t being narcissistic, but I did believe the amount of effort I put into things could never be duplicated so if I left, everyone would be upset with me knowing I couldn’t be replaced.
Well, every job I left, they were able to successfully replace me. They couldn’t find an exact match for me, but they found people with different strengths and skills that adapted to the position.
And that’s just it, we all adapt and evolve how we need to. People come and go in our lives and we adapt.
I thought I had the perfect girlfriend once, then she left and I found another perfect girlfriend. I married her, and we got divorced a few years later. Now I have another perfect girlfriend….
Can you see a pattern here? We always adapt and evolve with the situation and find different people that fill different needs in our life. Everyone that was special to me had their unique qualities and gifts they brought into the relationship.
Because we adapt to each other, we get used to what they bring to the table. Then when those people leave our lives, we adapt to the next person and get used to what they bring.
Fortunately, everyone is just a bit different. This gives us a wonderful variety and the understanding that everyone really can be replaced.
Their uniqueness will never be replaced, that’s for sure. But how our needs are fulfilled change with every new person in our life.
We may miss the first person, but we get new experiences and new perspectives from the second and third and so on.
The point of all this is that commitment is a sign of integrity, honesty and follow through. And when the commitment is too much for you to handle, quitting is also a sign of integrity, honesty and follow through.
You’ll learn your lesson from it and move on, knowing that you need to think more carefully before committing to something in the future. People’s feelings might get hurt and some people will be upset with you, but it’s better than dishonoring what you truly need for you, and staying miserable.
Let’s wrap up part 1 of this episode and summarize what we’ve talked about so far.
This turned out to be a longer episode than I thought so I had to split it up. I’ll give you the last two habits in the next episode as there’s still a lot to talk about.
Here are the first 5 habits of highly overextended people:
- Get less quality sleep
That’s right. If you want to stay overextended, make sure to get less high quality sleep. But if you want to start the process of becoming more productive and more efficient, remember those power naps. Anything from 5 to 20 minutes, even if you just close your eyes and imagine doing something that makes you tired, it’s a lot better than pushing through the tiredness trying to be productive.
- Oversaturate yourself with too much work, information or tasks
When you take on too much work, information, or other tasks, it’s a no-brainer that you’ll be overextended. Sure, sometimes it hits you from all sides and you have to do what you can to get through. This happens in school, but school is finite.
You might have to go to college for 4 or even 8 or more years, but at least there’s an end to that so you can start a career. But overextended people keep on taking on things even when they don’t have to.
Remember you don’t have to do number 3 which is:
- Say “yes” to everything
Overextended people say “yes” to so many things, and they wonder why they can’t get any quality sleep. Learn to say “no” once in a while – honor yourself.
Number 4 is:
- Obligate yourself to everyone
Not only do you say “yes” to everything that comes your way, you also obligate yourself to people, causes, work, and other things. You feel this overwhelming responsibility and feel obligated to take things on.
Remember there are 7 billion people on the planet, and you are replaceable! I know that’s terrible motivational advice, but knowing that you can be replaced actually takes some burden off. If you are overextended, it’s a nice feeling knowing that if you walk away from something, someone else will fill the gap.
Your uniqueness is never replaceable, which is why people love you for you, but other people in the world can do what you can do and people will adapt to them. And even if you’re the only person with your skills, well, people will just have to learn to do things in a different way.
Either way, they’ll be fine if you want to move on to something else.
You don’t have to feel guilty about feeling like you have to volunteer for everything that comes your way, because you cannot possibly take on every responsibility.
It’s like if every charity there ever was came to your door. Eventually, you’d run out of money because you can only give so much.
Leave some for yourself, it’s not selfish, it’s self-sustaining. It’s okay to say no and not obligate yourself sometimes.
- Once you commit, never quit
That’s right, if you want to keep the burden of being overextended, never quit what you commit to. If you’re in a terrible marriage, too bad – stay married and live miserably, because you want to feel bad.
This is sarcasm, of course. I don’t promote divorce, but I don’t promote staying in a bad relationship even more, if that makes sense. So sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Same goes for toxic friends and jobs and projects and other things that are stressing and burning you out. How do you know you’re getting burnt out? You say, “Oh God, I don’t want to do it anymore!”
It’s okay to reach a burnout point and say to someone, “I can’t do this anymore. I know I committed, but I am hurting myself by continuing. I’m sorry, I must go.”
Yeah, you’ll hurt people’s feelings, but you can’t be the best person you can be by worrying about what others might think of you. That’s just not the way it works.
Overextending yourself really means that you are finding ways to overwhelm your brain. Most of the time, you are the cause of your own overextending and you need to take steps to make sure you regulate what comes into your life.
It’s just like anything… you regulate what you eat, what you drink, the amount of time you spend watching TV, or whatever. Everything in moderation, right?
I really like the idea of balancing everything out in your life. If you eat a cake, take a walk. If you drink some alcohol, drink some water. If you mess up really bad, make up for it really good.
The universe actually has a law about this, it’s called the law of conservation of energy. In a nutshell, it states that all energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transformed.
A good example of that is a windmill. You need wind to turn a windmill – wind is a form of energy. Without it, you’d have to find other ways to turn it, but all the ways you could come up with would still require some sort of energy to turn the blades.
The entire universe abides by this physical law, supposedly, which makes you think that since we are a part of the universe, then everything we do should have a counterbalance effort of some sort.
So, if you eat cake, what is it doing to your body? Is it adding fat? And if so, that means you need to counter the effect by doing something that gets rid of the fat. That is, if you don’t want to gain weight.
I suppose if you wanted to gain weight, you could just eat cake and sit down and watch TV. Nothing wrong with that, but remember that the body will now have to spend energy doing something with that cake.
Eventually, it will just store it as fat if nothing is done to counter the effect.
I believe that everything is like this. When you want a great life, make sure you do enough to counter the not so great things in life. If you are busy all day, take a day where you have absolutely nothing to do.
If you spend all night drinking, spend a day or two detoxing and drinking green drinks. Of course, the trick is to not damage yourself going to such extremes.
If you damage yourself, then you might not be able to conjure the amount of energy it would require to repair the damage. So be aware of excesses.
And excess is really all we talked about today. When you take on too many things, you are overloading your system. When you never come down from that overload, you eventually damage yourself in some way.
Whether that’s physically, mentally, or emotionally. Watch your intake and make sure you have an equal amount of energy going in and out at all times to keep a homeostatic state – that balance.
Without it, you will eventually run down and burn out, which I know I’ve done quite a bit.
Whatever amount of energy that goes into a system, there has to be an equal amount of energy coming out of that system. When you regulate yourself like this, maybe you can finally get some reprieve from that overwhelmed brain.
Thanks for listening today.
Before I created this episode, I didn’t realize there were so many things we do to overextend ourselves. After starting it however, there was so much to talk about, it became a two-parter!
This really brought to light how much information our brain has at all times. I went from not believing there was enough to talk about to create one episode to creating two full episodes, with even more content for a third or a fourth one. Just goes to show how amazing our brains out. We have so much up there it’s quite boggling to think about.
You want to know how much you know? Put yourself on stage, unprepared, and ask someone to give you a general topic. You could probably talk for an hour on almost every subject imaginable, even if you knew nothing about it!
That’s because your brain is excellent at association. For example, if I said the word “triangle”, what comes to mind?
“Go on stage and talk about a triangle, right now.”
You might say, “Well, I was told to talk about a triangle, but I have no idea what to say. I suppose when I think of triangle, I remember using a triangle as a music instrument when I was a child. I remember distinctly the noise it made. My music teacher’s name was…”
You could go on and on. The point is that you have so much information inside you, you could probably talk all day every day and still not spout everything you know.
Everything you know is stored in your mind. It’s always there and ready to access. But what happens often is that when you try to consciously access it, you don’t always succeed.
So the secret to accessing that info is to subconsciously access it.
How do you do that?
You have someone else surprise you by putting you on on the spot and asking you a weird question that you don’t expect.
Surprises to your mind help you access inner information and inner resources. And if you want to be really creative, put yourself in situations you don’t want to be in and see if you suddenly become resourceful.
My girlfriend overextends herself a lot but she also tackles almost anything. What this has done is make her very creative and resourceful.
Don’t be afraid to tackle things, because you have almost all the answers inside of you. Just because you can’t think of an answer doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Also know that you can make it through almost anything. Adopting that, maybe you won’t have to feel fear anymore. You can feel it if you want, but would it be nice to not let it control you as much as it used to?
And when you really, really don’t have the answer, someone eventually comes along that does. That’s just how the world works when you let it.