I started writing this a couple of weeks ago, before social isolation and the country was on lock-down, meaning that many of us had more time on our hands at home. But I’m still going to post it, because things will go back to normal and then these things will become relevant again.
Sometimes you need to stop and evaluate what’s really working for you.
Not being willing to give up is often a good character trait. It helps you to keep going when others have thrown in the towel. It gives you the resilience to push through on tough days. It helps you to see things through, even when there are no quick wins.
But it’s not always a good thing. Sometimes it helps you to keep going when the smarter thing would be to walk away or cut your losses.
I have this character trait. A lot of the time it helps me. That bloody-mindedness that keeps me going despite setbacks, struggles, many of which have to do with finding solutions to living in a world that is often inaccessible, and often not built for me to succeed. All the little things – I talked more about them in my I am tired – the disability truth that we don’t like to talk about post.
But it’s not all disability-related. I have done it in failing relationships too. Keeping on till the bitter end, when most smart people would have walked away. I convince myself I can turn a failing situation round, or live with the thing that’s a massive inconvenience, or just be the stronger person. Coupled with my unwillingness to ask for help and tell anyone when things are falling apart, it can be a big surprise to my friends. Like the time when one of my closest friends found out just what a mess I’d got into with a guy that should have been sacked weeks before. It’s hard to turn around and walk away when you’ve put a lot of yourself into something or someone – emotionally, financially, or just in terms of your time and effort trying to make things work.
It’s the same with jobs. Sometimes I’ve stubbornly stayed in a job that was making me miserable because I didn’t want to admit it wasn’t working out. I’m not the kind of person who just quits without a new job to go to or a plan B, but sometimes I think looking back, it would have been smarter if I’d begun the job search sooner.
I’m talking about this now because ever so often I realise I’ve overcommitted myself, and in true Kirsty style, I’m too stubborn to admit it until I’ve really had enough.
It doesn’t show itself in not getting things finished. I’m a finisher, so if I set out to do something, then do it I will, but often without thinking about the cost. Not necessarily financial cost, but cost in terms of my own time, energy levels, or resources.
I have lots of ideas. I’m involved in a lot of cool stuff, in my businesses, social life, studies and hobbies. But sometimes it’s good to step back and think about what’s really adding value.
Today was one of those days. I pulled the plug on some activities I’ve been doing because they’ve been taking up time, but not adding value.
It’s hard to do that. It’s not nice to leave a job unfinished. I take commitments seriously, so if I sign up for a course or plan to do something over a number of weeks, I like to see it through. But if that thing is driving me mad and not giving the promised results, sometimes the best thing is to cut your losses and focus on the good stuff. Or at least focus on having some quality time for relaxing.
Things aren’t always what they seem. Programmes don’t deliver what they offer, or they might just not be the right thing for you. Sometimes it’s just a case of priorities changing and something that was massively important to you at one point slides down your priority list till it’s hanging on somewhere at the bottom. Sometimes life just happens and you have new responsibilities, more hours at work, or unexpected demands on your time.
There comes a point where it’s good to take stock and look at how we’re spending our time. Because even for those of us who don’t like to admit we can’t do something, there are only 24 hours in the day, and we only get one chance to spend each day. So if you have overcommitted, signed up for something that isn’t working out for you, or taken on a bit too much, it’s sometimes the stronger person that faces up to that and walks away.
It’s best not to make these decisions when you’re feeling emotional though, or you run the risk of letting negative feelings cloud your decisions. In my case that’s wanting to cancel everything, not just the thing that was causing the problem. That’s not a good way to be. I try not to make any big decisions when I’m angry/sad or just feeling some other kind of negative emotion.
But what I have learned is that a sustained period of being constantly too busy isn’t good, and sometimes it also takes us away from the things that really matter or make us happy.
Of course it makes a difference if suddenly quitting something will let others down, lead to some kind of financial loss or additional problems for you to solve, but I think it’s still worth having the conversation with yourself once in a while!
Do you ever feel like this? Let me know in the comments.
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