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Have to, Want to, Need to: The Reason You’re Exhausted

Have to, Want to, Need to: The Reason You’re Exhausted
Have to, Want to, Need to: The Reason You’re Exhausted

Are you living an over-scheduled and stressful life?

Do you wonder what life would be like if you didn't have so much going on?

Could you give up needing everything to be done at an A+ level?

If this message resonates with you, it’s time to get honest and redesign how you spend your precious time and extend your power and energy.

Obligations and Commitments

Chances are, at work and home, many things you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis are because of the role you play and the commitments you've made to fulfill that role.

At work, you probably have a job description articulating responsibilities and duties. And, if you are like many other people, you also have a list of other things that you have been asked to do or have taken on of your own volition. By observing your efforts for a week, you will see the patterns in how you use your time and energy. This will help you become aware, with data, as to what activities and efforts are requiring a lot of energy and effort that might be depleting.

At home, most likely, your "role" in your family or household isn't as clearly articulated as work. This might make it a little more challenging to examine, but try to do it anyway. Note that you might be triggered with feelings of resentfulness or annoyance if you have taken on chores, responsibilities, and decisions that you don't want. Just like the "audit" I'm advocating you take related to work, stay objective when you do this exercise at home.

Your life experiences each day are impacted by ALL the layers and sequenced effort and exerted energy. It would be normal if you run into time and energy conflicts occasionally. It would also be normal for you to discover that you are often multitasking, which sometimes is doing two or more things at once, and other times it is you sitting waiting in line at the airport, talking to your boss, and simultaneously looking at a spreadsheet attachment. And if you are a stay-at-home caregiver or parent, you probably have at least three or four tasks in play while trying to keep little people busy and do the laundry. This is how we roll, so don't be surprised when you discover how much stress you are putting on your mind and body each day trying to keep up.

In private coaching sessions, people tell me they're exhausted and overworked, often leading to real-life stories that bring up anger, resentfulness, and sadness. Most of the time, it's because they have agreed (intentionally or unintendedly) to this inhumane output of energy, activity, and effort that they can't sustain. This is a fixable issue when you are ready to slow down long enough to plan your days with intention and make a commitment to your own mental, emotional, and physical health first. A new level of refined focus will help you decide how much energy to give each effort, allowing you to determine what serves your mission, your job role, your goals, etc. It will also guide you into new, formalized agreements about "give and take" with the people who matter the most.

Self-Imposed Efforts To Gain Something

When someone is angry and resentful about efforts that are being ignored or undervalued, my goal is always to help them gain clarity first. You have to be honest with yourself about what you're doing to "get" attention, affection, and respect. While all this effort isn't necessarily bad, when the majority of your time and energy goes into attracting external validation and you aren't getting the desired results, it creates mental and emotional strife and physical exhaustion.

When you have tracked your time and effort, you may realize that 50% or more of the energy-requiring tasks are self-imposed and do not yield the results you want. While that is considered a great batting average in baseball, I don't know anyone who wants that to be how they spend their lives. Try to evaluate this without the filters of good or bad; be as objective as possible. If you look at this solely from your emotional self, you may get swept up in what others are or are not doing. This is not the point of this exercise, and it's critical that if you want change, you refrain from looking outside of yourself for answers.

Ask Yourself:

  1. Have I self-assigned this task, or is it a part of a role or agreement with others?

  2. Think about how it feels in your body when you think about doing the effort or task. Is it energy-giving, or does it exhaust or anger you just thinking about it?

  3. If this activity or effort is part of an agreement, is this agreement recent and relevant? Or is this something that we/I have always done – so the agreement or need might be old or not needed anymore?

  4. If no one else seems to notice this needs to be done, why do I believe it is important? What am I gaining or trying to gain?

  5. How successful would I feel if I continued doing this thing/put out the effort?

  6. If I don't do it, what will happen? What are the short and long-term consequences?

  7. If I don't do it, and it is deemed important by myself and others who benefit, who besides me could or would do it?

  8. Who could I ask for help?

  9. Who could I delegate this to?

  10. Is there a productive outcome and learning opportunity available to employees, children, partners, etc., if I learn to let this go?

  11. If I had that time and energy back, what would I do instead? What could I do to fulfill my life mission/purpose? What would be fun and energy-giving?

Once you take the time to examine and get honest with yourself about what you "have to, want to and need to" be doing, try new ways of thinking and behaving to make shifts in how you feel and spend your energy:

  • Say NO. Stop doing things if it makes you resentful or angry.

  • Give yourself time back by eliminating one or two things you do regularly that you really do not have to do.

  • Think about and plan your life intentionally instead of just going week by week on autopilot.

  • Make a note about when you feel underappreciated and taken for granted. Don't speak it immediately when you are triggered or emotional. Instead, journal the emotions to diffuse them. Then, consider making a new agreement with the people who could help take some of the load.

  • Establish clear boundaries with others once you have decided to let go of tasks, chores, or efforts you were historically in charge of. This could mean redefining your job role at work. At home, it might mean having written to-do and chores lists with articulated ownership.

  • Don't be wishy-washy about this work!

  • Explore, with a coach or therapist, how you can redefine your efforts to connect with others and bring more love and appreciation in without doing anything. Just be you and see who shows up. This is deeply personal work that can be incredibly fulfilling when you adopt new thinking and choices.

Knowing the difference between an obligation and a self-imposed effort is an important first step in taking your time and power back and creating a daily life you love. You do not need to live your life exhausted and overwhelmed, but to make a sustainable change, you have to be willing to be honest with yourself about why you are spending your time and energy the way you are and who is gaining from it all.

At, we have designed coaching, retreats, and content to help you make the changes needed to have a life with relationships and work you LOVE. It is yours when you are ready.


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