The Most Insidious Form of Self-Sabotage
A couple years ago, I was feeling so drained I started having nightmares about bleeding to death. I’d simultaneously been running my business, writing a book, taking care of my two young children, and pursuing acting. When an audition came in that was due the next day, I felt overwhelmed instead of excited. The obvious solution would have been to take something off my plate—but what?
I loved each of the things I was doing so much. I’d only just recently started acting (a secret lifelong dream) and had just signed with an agent. But I couldn’t stop running my business, it was my bread and butter. I didn’t have the option or desire to send my kids packing.
So what was left?
Acting or writing, both things I loved dearly. It felt like choosing a limb to cut off. I also knew that I hadn’t been giving either my all. I only have so much energy.
One of my best friends reminded me, “Teri, acting will still be there later.”
So I pushed pause on acting class, my agent, and auditions, funneling all of my creative energy into my business, converting my book into an online class, and taking everything to the next level. In one year, I made more progress than I had in the previous fourteen. The best part was that acting opportunities that worked with my schedule came anyway.
I made videos for my business and remembered that I actually perform in sessions every day by stepping into the role of significant people in my clients’ lives to help them transform their relationships. Something that felt a lot better than driving four hours to audition for a chicken commercial I didn’t really want to be in anyway.
There are many ways to sabotage yourself, and putting too much on your plate is the sneakiest. It’s the most difficult to see and argue with. It’s too easy to say, “But I love everything I’m doing!” and keep trudging forward, giving only a small percentage of your attention to each of your dreams, which deserve so much more.
Try saying to yourself instead “Ok, look. I know I love all these things and that’s great, but acting, cross-stitching, script writing, or whatever, isn’t going anywhere. I’m going to choose one primary thing to focus on and give it my all until it’s finished, or advanced in some significant way.” You’ll be amazed by how far you get.
Head debates constitute a massive energy loss, and what happens when you make such a decision is that you save a lot of energy. The energy you use to waste being hard on yourself for not making more progress can be spent making more progress.
When you are no longer constantly wondering what to focus on in each moment you have a lot more energy to pour into the one thing you are prioritizing. You also save energy by not having to switch gears so much. Just like cars get better gas mileage when they’re on the highway, going fast in one direction. You cover more ground when you are committed to one, clear road.
Another energy saving bonus to not having too much on your plate is feeling successful. When you focus on one thing, you will make more tangible progress than when you are divided. Progress makes you feel successful, and feeling successful is very energizing.
It’s hard to argue yourself out of loving all you do. So don’t. Think of taking things off your plate as pushing the pause button on those so you can put one thing center stage, for now. Each will get its turn, and when you come back to others, they will benefit immensely from the success of the one preceding it.