Recently I was getting over a nasty cold that absolutely knocked me out for a couple days. And during the times I lie in bed—out of commission and feeling physically horrible—this thought crossed my mind a few times:
Oh my gosh, what am I neglecting to do right now for my business because I’m lying in bed sick?
The thought was a passing one, mostly because the answer to my own question was, “Who cares? You couldn’t physically do anything right now, even if you wanted to!”
External forces sometimes tell us we’ve done enough
In my case, my body was setting the limits to what I was able to do and telling me that I’d done everything I could do at that point.
In answer to the question, “Are you doing enough to help your business?” my body’s answer was an emphatic, “Yes! Right now you are.“ And it felt nice and affirming to feel I was doing everything I could. It was calming validation.
But why do we need to wait to have an external force (the flu virus, physical exhaustion, or something else) dictate when we’ve done enough to help ourselves? The truth is we don’t need to wait, but many of us find it difficult to set those limits ourselves.
Dueling little voices in your head
I constantly witness the duel in my own head between the little voice that says, “Hey, you work hard, you’re taking care of business, good job!” and the one that says, “What, are you kidding me? There’s so much more you could be doing! Don’t be lazy.”
I can’t tell you that I know when to side with each of these two voices. But for me, the point is that I seem to constantly have that debate going on. The question is always there: Am I doing enough?
When I think back to how I felt lying in bed sick the last few days—comforted by the certainty that I was doing everything I could be doing—it occurs to me that I want to have more of that feeling in my life. And I think the key to feeling that calm validation more of the time is this:
Shift: Are you doing everything you want to do?
When you think about whether you’re doing enough to help yourself, shift the question from:
“Are you doing everything you can do?”
to the more empowering question:
“Are you doing everything you want to do?”
This slight shift in perspective empowers you to choose what you’ll do, rather than doing things until you have no choice but to stop. It makes it a matter of choice and helps you focus on what you ARE doing, not only on what you’re not.
I encourage you to think about the things that you do in your life to help yourself—be they for your career, your business, or something else—where you may feel that you’re not doing enough. Notice what happens when you change the question from,“Are you doing everything you can do?” to, “Are you doing everything you want to do?” Do you feel more empowered and in control? Do you feel more accomplished and at peace? I think you might.
Guillermo Villar is principal coach with Cambio Coaching. He helps high achieving professionals communicate more effectively and experience more fulfillment at work.