When You Can’t Give 110% And You Feel Like You Are Letting People Down

Photo by Joshua Earle https://unsplash.com/@joshuaearle

If you’ve been following me on Medium for awhile you’ve probably noticed things have been a little quiet on my end. Not as many posts weekly as I usually put out.

The reason things have been quiet on my end is that the past month and a half have been quite trying for me.

In early April I was battling burnout. I thought a vacation would help, but it only highlighted how exhausted I was.

I did my best to take it slow but at the end of April wound up in the emergency room due to a condition that may or may not have been exacerbated by stress. Don’t worry I’m OK now, but I have to go through a round of tests and doctor’s visits to figure out how to manage what I’ve got.

In the midst of all this, I felt like I was letting people down. Some were understanding and supportive. Others may have felt like I was a sinking ship and decided to flee before they got pulled down. While others didn’t even know what was going on and thought I was being flakey or creating excuses for my limited response.

It’s been a trying time, because I pride myself on seeing things through, and being there for others. But lately, I haven’t been able to. I’ll admit I’ve broken down twice and managed to get through it and stay optimistic thanks to my amazing husband.

The reason I’m sharing all this with you is because I realize I’m not alone, and my situation isn’t unique. Perhaps you’ve gone through a time that was trying, and you just couldn’t give it your all. You wish you could do more, but there is a very hard limit holding you back. Since others don’t have the full story, they may be quick to judge.

So how do you deal with it and pull through?

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Give yourself time to heal. As someone who is always on the go and eager to get things done, it’s been a challenge to carve out time throughout the day and days of the week where I don’t do anything mentally or physically strenuous. I’ve had to learn to give myself permission to not look at the clock as I’ve done this.
  • Commit to focusing on a couple things. Some of my friend suggested a sabbatical. I don’t have the luxury of taking off 6 months. I have a mortgage and sadly mounting medical bills to pay! Instead, I took this as an opportunity to evaluate what was and wasn’t working in my business. At times I’ve felt like a bulldozer, clearcutting projects, but it’s actually caused me to unearth how I want to spend my time, and to focus on things that do make an impact.
  • Don’t let the judgment of others make you feel guilty. This has been the hardest for me to do. However, I’ve used it as a way to test those who truly want to support and work with me, from those who want to take and get ahead.
  • Don’t let other people’s drama drain you. There have been a few times where I’ve just had to walk away. Some may have perceived it has me being cold-hearted, but it’s hard to help others when you have personal battles you’re fighting.
  • Know that you will get back to 110% but it’s your call if and when you do. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to cut back due to an unfortunate circumstance. So while I’m operating at about 50–80% most days, I know myself well enough to know that eventually, I’ll get back to 110%. But I need to remind myself to carefully choose the things I want to give 110% to.

In case you’re curious what this looks like in practice, here is the future I’ve carved out for my company Femgineer:

  • Videos. I’m working closely with our sponsor Pivotal Tracker to change the format of our monthly web show FemgineerTV. Our goal is to do shorter and more frequent videos starting July 2017 on broader topics. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here to receive the latest videos.
  • Speaking. I will continue to accept opportunities to speak and teaching workshops around the country through the summer and fall. Here’s what I have lined up:
  • Delivering a keynote for ATX Hack for Change in Austin, TX in June.
  • Sponsoring the Write/Speak/Code Conference in Portland, OR in August. Register here with our promo code to receive 50% off.
  • Teaching a workshop at Grace Hopper in Orlando, FL in October.
  • Delivering a keynote at Agile Testing Days in Berlin, Germany in November.
  • Writing. I previously mentioned that I was writing a third book, it’s now on pause. I will continue to put out on content consistently on Medium and the blog. If there are topics or questions you’d like me to answer, just let me know in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to provide you with answers! Here are a few questions readers have already brought up:
  • Is it important for an entrepreneur to learn how to code?
  • My company provides a training budget, but I don’t know where to start. What are your tips for things I should read/learn/attend?
  • Reading. One of my favorite summertime activities is reading. If you’re curious what I’ve read or what I’m currently reading, feel free to follow me on GoodReads here.

Scaling back doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially since it means I still get to do the work I love doing, and have readers like you be a part of it!

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