Why Women Should Do Less To Succeed
You wonder why you don’t feel like celebrating.
Instead, you just feel exhausted.
You had some success this week but…
Another week is over and you wonder where all the time went. This month is flying by.
You spent your last 5 days running from meeting to meeting, staying late to get your own work done. Where did all the time go?
It’s overwhelming. Somehow, you ended up doing the lion’s share of the work again. And, you wonder why the others can’t pick up the weight when they don’t have nearly as much on their plate as you. Their teams are smaller, they have fewer projects and yet, you keep getting more work.
While it feels good to be the one getting the new responsibilities, sometimes it makes you mad that others don’t seem to work as hard or produce as much as you do. Yet, they get the promotions and here you are, the one getting everything done.
If only you could find a way to get it all done without disappointing your boss, your team or your family and at the same time feel like you have a successful life…
If You Keep Taking on More, You’ll Get the Promotion (Right?)
Doing more work isn’t necessarily the way to get noticed.
It’s easy to take on more for the wrong reasons and spend increasing amounts of energy that doesn’t pay off. We can end up with work that others should be doing because it’s not getting done properly or at all so we feel an obligation to make it happen. And, we can spend time developing expertise that isn’t actually going to help get us promoted.
These are some of the many traps that we can get caught in by taking on too much extra work.
Maybe you have tried multitasking so you can do more in a day. You might have heard that it’s been proven not to work, yet it’s so easy to get sucked into doing too many things at once.
But, it turns out that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time, it just switches your attention quickly when you are doing many things at once. In fact, every time we switch our attention we lose more and more productivity to what is called “Task Switching” which degrades our memory, increases stress and errors and burns a lot of energy. And the cost increases as you add tasks and complexity.
There is a mental cost to us when we take on too much as well. When we are spread too thin, we don’t excel at anything and we have that nagging feeling that we could be doing a better job. We are constantly having to disappoint someone. It feeds our fears of never being enough. This can drive us to work even harder.
And, we can’t be present with the important people in our lives — our loved ones, our boss, our coworkers. Not being able to live in the present can create a feeling of lack which is usually followed by a feeling of needing more. When you aren’t present, nothing is fulfilling since you aren’t really experiencing anything.
Do You Have Opportunity Overload?
The Information Age should really be called the Information Overload Age. One of the effects of information overload is that we are exposed to an abundance of opportunities.
First, there is social pressure. It used to be that you just heard about how successful everyone else was when you got their annual Christmas letter listing all their yearly achievements. But now, we see how fabulously everyone else is doing on their social media accounts every day.
Next, there is an endless amount we can learn on any given topic. We see thousands of books and articles by the experts in the field and there is often no limit to how much we can learn. There are conferences, even several times a year in most fields. There is an increasing pressure to be ‘in the know’ when every bit of knowledge is just a search away. Knowledge is a currency that is traded on in many workplaces and even in families.
And, there are marketers out there making sure that we know about every opportunity, relentlessly telling us we need to do more and learn more to be more. While it’s their job to make us feel inadequate, we don’t have to take on that message.
We can fight opportunity overload and say no to all those messages that tell us we are not enough and take a new path.
How to Not Wear Yourself Out
By reducing the number of things on our plate, we can live a life that is both more fulfilling and more successful. We have to first acknowledge that we can’t do it all. There will never be enough time or enough energy to learn everything, be everywhere, and support everyone.
We have to choose what is most important and decide where we can make the greatest impact. Then, our efforts can be focused on those things that bring meaning and success.
It reminds me of when I used to volunteer at the animal shelter. I wanted to take every animal home and solve their problems. Except that our shelter handled over 10,000 animals per year and my house wasn’t that big. I learned quickly that my efforts were best spent as part of the system that found homes throughout our region for all of these pets. By focusing my energy on my small part of the system, I got tremendous satisfaction from my work as I watched all those animals go to their forever homes.
Once we can get clear on the most important things in our life, we can start to foster those things while deemphasizing anything that is not going in the right direction.
And, Get the Promotion
By taking time to figure out what is going to get you to the next level in your career, you can put your efforts on those activities and start to disengage with commitments that aren’t going in that direction.
Developing this kind of focus will help you to determine if you actually need to acquire new knowledge or if you already have enough. And, if you do need to brush up in one area, it will be clear exactly which area needs attention.
Being laser focused on what you need to do to get to the next level will get you there.
When we can focus on what will make us more successful at work, we need to then stop when we have fulfilled those needs. Only then, will we have extra time to spend on the things that make life meaningful.
Our life’s meaning usually comes from the relationships we have with our colleagues, family and friends. When we take the time we need to rejuvenate and care for ourselves, we can really show up for the people in our lives.
Get All Your Rowers Pulling in the Same Direction
The Busyness Trap can leave you feeling exhausted and unfulfilled; like there is more you should be doing if you only had the time.
By learning to focus on the things that are truly important to your success and happiness, you can get that next promotion while having enough time to do the things that bring your life meaning.
Make a plan to start letting go of obligations that don’t serve and say no to new opportunities that aren’t aligned with your vision. Try it out on small matters first to build your confidence. And, build up from there.
Imagine how you will feel when you know that all of your efforts are taking you in the one direction you know you need to go. And, that the people who matter to you will be happier as a result when you can support and love them fully.
Start today by deciding not to do one small thing. And tomorrow, one more.