Have you noticed those signs on old roads or bridges that warn about the maximum load the road can tolerate? Probably not, because “maximum load” is one of those signs we don’t read. Unfortunately, we often miss that sign in life as well. In fact, it’s easy to go exactly the wrong way….just keep adding more to the load in the false belief that “once I get through x, it will get easier.” We keep thinking that we can do more. It just doesn’t work that way.
We all have a maximum load, and it’s usually less than what we think it is. By “maximum load” we mean doing all that we can handle…and no more. Bridges aren’t designed to handle the maximum load continuously – only for short periods of time. The same applies to the human body and spirit. We can take on a lot, but then need to back off from the maximum load to regain our energy.
We (Lynn & Susan) each have had the experience of exceeding our maximum load and fortunately have learned how to recognize and respond to it. Here’s a story from Susan’s personal experience:
Signs of Exceeding Maximum Load
“Over the years I’ve noticed that there are signs in my life that indicate I’ve reached or exceeded my maximum load. They are:
- I haven’t had a manicure in weeks…or months.
- The top of my desk looks like a paper recycling center.
- I can’t remember the last time I had a date night with my husband. When it’s really bad, I forget that I have a husband.
- My daily “to do” list would be impossible to complete in a week.
- I’ve lost my enthusiasm for exercise.
- I’ve spent more time in the drive through lane than the kitchen.
- The people whom I normally love in my life have become annoying, grumpy and hard to get along with. (Surely it could not be ME???)”
“A few years ago I hit the maximum load, missed all the signs and kept going. A series of unrelated, coincidental events hit all in the space of a few months- job changes, deaths, illnesses, economic crises, family transitions. Most of these were not within my control. Sometimes life just hands us a maximum load. There were also other activities that I continued to take on which even further increased my load. But it wasn’t just the load – the volume of activity. These were activities and responsibilities that were not only intense, they were draining me.”
“There’s a difference between being “in the flow” and energized with an intense, high volume of activity and being drained and burdened by things that take you down. In our workshop, Building the Foundation for A Fulfilling Career, we help women identify the difference so they can clear the path of the energy drainers and make way for those things that fulfill them (Energy Gems™).”
“In my case, I finally hit the wall. I walked into my office one day and stared at the wall. I said to myself “Susan, turn around and look at your computer. Go to work.” But I couldn’t move. I was just too tired, burned out, exhausted. If one more person asked me to do one more thing for them, solve one more problem, take on one more responsibility, I was going to scream….literally.”
“Fortunately I’ve had enough life experience, sage advice and tools in my toolbox to know what to do when I’ve exceeded the maximum load and the energy has been drained from me. I turned around and started writing down what I needed to do to get out of this pattern. I knew what was draining my energy that I could get away from and I knew what I needed to do to get reenergized about my life and my work.”
How to Renew Your Energy
We have learned from our personal experience and research from others how to respond when you approach your maximum load:
First, clear the path of the energy drainers by asking yourself these questions:
- What energy drainers in my schedule can I resign from/ stop doing?
- What responsibilities can I delegate either temporarily or long term?
- What is coming up that I can say “no” to, even if it’s a “good thing”?
Second, make time for your Energy Gems™, those things that energize you. Examples of our Energy Gems™ are:
- Touch base with advisors/ friends/ sages who offer a different perspective on what’s happening in life.
- Schedule a vacation or a break to look forward to.
- Spend time doing something out of the ordinary routine…best if it’s something that stimulates the senses in a different way.
- Make time in the morning to pray, meditate and journal.
- Get outdoors; take a walk in nature.
If you know what drains your energy and what energizes you, you can lighten your load and overcome burnout. Energy Gems™ are different for everyone, and very personal.
That’s why we created our Building the Foundation workshop. We help women understand where their energy drainers are, how to clear them from their life, and how to identify their Energy Gems™. There are always people or things that drain us that we can’t avoid, and in that situation, it’s important to know how to recover and reenergize. Once you know what your energy drainers are, you can clear the path for a more energized career. If you’d like more on this topic, join us on May 10 for our “Building the Foundation for a Fulfilling Career” workshop.
Do you know what your Energy Gems™ are? As you go through your day today, note what activities drain you and which ones you look forward to.