The pressure to work harder to succeed has created a culture for many that is difficult to sustain. What’s more, being connected and on tap longer may be causing our personal wellbeing and family life to suffer.
Super-achieving goals and habits may actually be undermining your performance. When is it healthy and when is it counterproductive to keep the work accelerator on for such sustained bursts?
High achievers that push the boundaries will argue that being that way has brought them untold rewards. They know they often overdo it, people tell them to slow down – but the results are there for all to see. Why break a winning streak?
Just stop for a minute and think about yourself. Are you:
- Driving yourself harder, faster, longer?
- Noticing the moment you go on holidays you get sick and collapse in a heap instead of enjoying the holiday to the fullest?
- Mostly feeling great but aware that one little setback (eg a sick child or parent, a financial issue, a problem at work) and you are on shaky ground and things start to crack?
- Feeling that your goals are within reach, but a lot more of you is required?
- Experiencing an inner or external taskmaster whipping you along?
- Are you throwing yourself into high intensity work to avoid something else in your life not working… a relationship?
- Are you having trouble saying no?
If it’s yes to any or all of the above, you’re verging on extremism and at some point when you least expect it, extremes are going to undermine your performance. You might argue about the word extremism – so think of it as an accelerator pedal stuck on WORK HARDER.
Humans are capable of achieving tremendous things, it’s true, but breaking imaginary Guinness World Records is no recipe for longevity.
Fascinating and alarming Yale research study
Research by Yale has found stressful events can reduce the brain’s gray matter in areas regulating emotion, self-control and blood pressure. And this reduced functioning will likely impact future stressful events. The problem is the pre-frontal cortex is impacted and this is essential for planning, decision-making, thinking, learning and remembering.
Slow down – at least pace yourself!
People need to find healthy ways to manage stress, and healthy ways to work, especially if they are driven to achieve.
What’s the hurry? Who’s really dictating these extremes in your life?
It’s you, isn’t it?
If you’re racing along, trying to exceed your personal best (whether at work or elsewhere), will everything be shot to pieces if you ease up a little? Probably not, but if you’re doubtful or have shareholders riding your coattails, you can ease your frenetic pace without stopping outright.
If you work flat out all the time when do you recharge and how can you build up extra momentum for when it’s really needed? Constantly taking things to the max is sooner or later going to impact – badly – on your body, your mental or emotional health and the lives of those who care about you. We witness tragic testimony to this nearly every day in the news.
There’s plenty of evidence that supports the importance of pacing yourself, for example, when exercising. So, why not see the analogy in other parts of your life? We are not merely built for speed; we are built for survival.
- showing some flexibility when circumstances or our health require it;
- seizing downtime to recharge;
- developing a sense of humour and perspective about yourself and others; and
- understanding that the same strategies don’t forever bring the same results.