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For many of us, we have gotten through times of stress and uncertainty by putting our head down & plowing forward. By working harder. By not giving up.

There comes a point in life, though, where that strategy backfires.

This is a tough thread, but here goes.
In recent months, I have seen friends and colleagues fall apart, in many different ways... all because of the "work harder" ethos.

One started drinking too much - to the point that it endangered their job.

One became so burnt out that they were snapping at work (& home).
One developed intractable insomnia. (And we all know that sleep deprivation makes everything worse.)

One had to step away from a long- desired project, because they felt so overwhelmed.

One had a re- emergence of a long-dormant eating disorder.
Me? I became consumed by imposter syndrome. Because I couldn't work "hard enough" at *everything*, I felt that I wasn't doing a good job anything. It was tearing me apart.
Later week, a dear friend said to me "maybe the old way of working, just isn't working any more."

(Others said other things, that landed to varying degrees.)

Hmm.
And then a few of the people I mention above, had the same epiphany.

As one said to me recently: Sometimes "working harder" makes it worse. Not just for you, but for everyone around you.
In life, I'm realizing, we get to a point - in career, at home, with health- where we need to refocus in order to achieve true "success". Where the old ways of being are a hindrance rather than a help.
Maybe that means a change in what we focus on.

Or a change in how we focus.

Or a change in WHY we choose to focus.
For me: the answer was reframing the limits of my focus, and reframing what "focus" & "success" even meant.

Remembering that, in the words of Billy King, "Pressure is a privilege. Usually if you have tremendous pressure, it's because an opportunity comes along."
For those of us - for all of us - under pressure: the time is now for seizing those opportunities by the horns. For digging into them.

But that requires the reframe.

Boundaries.

A strong sense of self.

A willingness to let go.

Integrity.
Others have written about only saying yes if it's a "hell yes." I'm talking about something deeper. About digging down into yourself, confronting your defense mechanisms, and rising above.

About having the courage to develop new paths and measures and goals.
And, for me, about really owning my confidence and my expertise. Trusting that it will be ok, and that the answer isn't just "doing more".

Allowing myself to lead from something more substantial than "having done the homework."
Sometimes, knowing it all or doing it all isn't only "not necessary." It actually causes harm. It disempowers those around you, and leaves them no room to shine.

It's also EXHAUSTING.
For those interested in some resources on this topic, I highly recommend @raisinghappines christinecarter.com/the-sweet-spot/
But most of all I recommend having great friends who can call out your bs, support your struggle, and help you make your way to the other side.

Our culture doesn't always support vulnerability. But without it, we cannot grow. The alternative is staying stuck - or worse.
/coda1: this struggle may be amplified for those of us - women, people of color, disabled - who suffer from stereotype threat & implicit bias. And that the world right now is particularly exhausting. I welcome input or comments from all, knowing that my vantage point isn't all.
/ coda2: of the friends and colleagues I mention above, all are now doing fine. These dark nights of the soul can serve as a chance to change. ♥️
/ fin: Be brave, friends. In whatever way you need to be brave right now. Thanks for being you.
/ PPPS: Because a few people have warmed my heart today by reaching out: To clarify, this is written from the other side. And I'm blessed to have been able to recognize & change course before getting to burnout or worse. Hope this helps others to do the same.
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