Are You Taking on Too Much?

We’ve all been there – stuck in our heads. We want to do everything and as a result, we finish nothing. It’s a constant battle between ambition and mental agility. Sometimes, when we push too much, we stop in our tracks to recover – whether we want to, or not.

It’s a cultural phenomenon for ambitious individuals to push beyond their ability. “Sleep when you’re dead,” they say. “Just do it.” “Fight Through,” and yet this mentality takes its toll. I can’t count the number of friends I have recently seen get sick out of nowhere. They are forced to stop completely and put their dreams on hold. This ranges from Broadway performers to entrepreneurs. The cause? They burn the candle from both ends and isn’t fair for them or the people that they work with. 

I am currently working and traveling. In order to do this, I have taken on a variety of fellowships, internships, and volunteer opportunities to gain experience and cut costs. On top of this, I am applying to graduate programs in NYC, managing my clients and executing the tasks required of me for my short term obligations. I want to learn everything and find myself taking every opportunity to do so but is this the right course of action? With little free time and constant anxiety of keeping up with my own expectations, I fail more than I succeed. I, myself, am burning the candle from both ends, and you might be too. 

Here are five ways to determine if it’s time to take a break so you can give your all and keep your momentum. Remember, life is a sprint. Not a race. 

1. You say “Yes” to everything

Maybe it’s your improv training. Maybe it’s your thirst for new challenges. Maybe you just want to be liked. Whatever it is that inspires you to say “yes” to everything may be hurting you more than helping you. The next time you are offered an opportunity, evaluate it carefully. Why I am doing this? Can I really put my best effort into it? How will it impact me and those involved?

2. You resent the things you’re doing

You’ve committed to a task. Now you must complete it. Nobody likes to work, but if you find yourself resenting the people around you and/or the work you’re doing more than are enjoying it, it might be time to re-evaluate. Why do you resent it? What’s causing the frustration? Is it your time? The work itself? 

3. Overreactions

You had a minor set back. Maybe someone got annoyed with you. Maybe you saw something on social media and felt personally attacked. Maybe someone gave you the wrong change at a cashier. Whatever it is, it’s time to notice when your overreactions occur and what the root of the problem might be. 

4. You’re losing sleep

Anxiety is real. Usually, when we know we’re messing up, we replay different scenarios in our head over and over. This cycle leads to sleeplessness and more anxiety. You need sleep to function and complete your tasks. If you’re losing sleep over something, it’s time to nip it in the bud. 

5. You’ve stopped having fun

Ambitious individuals usually seek opportunities that spark their delight. We want to learn and are determined to make an impact. When activities you were once excited to take on begin to cause you to burn out, it’s time to stop. 

Of course, depression and anxiety come and go. Some days you feel like you can take on everything. Other days, the weight of the world seems to be on your shoulders. My biggest piece of advice to my fellow boss ladies out there is this: say no when it’s important for you to say no. It might seem like you have little to do at the moment, but in order to put your best effort into a new endeavor, you must fully commit. Use that free time to do a better job at the things you’re already working on, or take some time for yourself. The quality of your work is important, and so is your health. Get out of your head! 

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