Well done.

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Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? What about when that good thing is something you’ve worked super hard to have?

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately, because I’m a lucky gal. I’m also a tired one, though.

See, I have a lot of things on my proverbial plate. I take full responsibility for putting them all there, though, and there isn’t one thing I didn’t intentionally prepare for, seek out, and say yes to. It took a lot of years of making one choice at a time, and probably a lot of what looked like zig-zagging along the way. It was all on purpose, though. I intentionally built this life. And yes, I have privileges that make opportunity more proximate to me, but there was still a lot of sweat, and anxiety, and fear, and risks and just plain WORK along the way, too. Nevertheless, if you told me 10 years ago that my life would be made of all the pieces that comprise it now, I’d have hugged you outright. Maybe cried. Nevermind you’re (probably) a stranger. I’d have been psyched.

So one step at a time, I collected my pieces and here I am. Coaching, teaching, writing and speaking about things that matter a lot to me, and that I think should matter to other people, too. I’ve made friends and contacts who inspire me in the spaces I wanted to learn more about. My work feels meaningful, and that makes me happy. To top it off, I have more opportunities than I know what to do with.

Which brings me to my question. Can you have too much of a good thing?

I’m really asking. Like I said, I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’m still not sure. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

Doing work I love is energizing. It makes me curious and engages both my heart and my intellect. Yes to all of that. Also, though, yes seems to be my favorite word lately. Yes to more of all of it, because who says no to what you love doing? To what you worked so hard to be able to do?

The lesson for me: there is a tipping point. There’s an invisible line where doing more goes from creating energy to burning it, and it can really sneak up on you. Passion projects may change that equation, but eventually the outcome is going to be the same:

Burnout.

That spark within you that led to the burning passion of doing what you love is going to fry you right up. If you don’t want that to happen, then you need to pay attention to the burn.

You have to listen to your own signals. When they’re reading close to “overheated,” you have to rest. Sometimes, this is going to mean saying no.

The poet Nayyirah Waheed wrote, “No might make them angry, but it will make you free…” As a person with a passion for doing meaningful work, free is exactly what you need to be.

You need space to think, and innovate, hone your skills, and rest your weary bones. You need room to just be, and breathe.

If you’re not there yet, and your work just feels like work right now, tune in. Breathe, visualize. What’s one change you could make in your next step that would bring you closer to where you want to be? Do that, and when it’s time, ask yourself that question again. It will take shape. You will get there.

When you do, remember this. Work that you love is still work, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Set up your boundaries, so that you have the energy you need to keep building the pieces of a life of your own, perfect, balanced design.

Photo credit: Pavan Trikutam

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