I’m constantly working on rewiring my habits of overworking and overdoing. It’s not easy.
The overwork habit rests on a deeply embedded belief that “you have to work hard to stand out and get results.”
The habit is also reinforced by social conditioning that tells me “more” is better.
I’ve noticed that there’s a level of work beyond which I not only don’t get the results I’m seeking, but I actually get diminishing returns.
More is not always better.
This shift to working less is challenging, not only because habits are hard to break, but also because it requires addressing other entangled beliefs, such as the belief of “not enough.”
I’m not doing enough. This won’t be enough. I’m not good enough.
When you’re conditioned to over-do and over-work, not overdoing and not overworking can often feel like not doing enough.
It can feel weird, like I’m not doing my job or I’m abdicating responsibility. It may feel like I’m not meeting my standards.
These perceptions can trigger guilt, self-directed anger, and self-berating, which, of course, just trigger more feelings of “not enough.” This leads to more over-work, reinforcing the vicious cycle. And it can also lead to over-indulging, over-buying, over-spending, and all the other ways in which we over-do things in our culture.
Learning to stay with the discomforts of not over-working is essential to interrupting the cycle.
When these discomforts arise, I remind myself of 5 crucial truths:
(1) It is not my job to take over responsibility for others or do jobs that aren’t mine.
(2) Perfection isn’t a high standard. It’s the lowest standard because it doesn’t exist. So striving toward it is futile.
(3) It’s one thing to have high standards, but when standards are so high that they are impractical, they aren’t actually high standards; they are unrealistic expectations.
(4) I am enough.
(5) I don’t have to prove my worth to anyone by doing more than is necessary.
But if you want to break out of a sabotaging habit, you’ve got to be willing to get uncomfortable.