There was a Mary Tyler Moore Show where Rhoda met a guy—in a traffic accident of all places—and she invited him to dinner that night. There was just one problem. She had to lose 20 pounds by dinner. Of course she was kidding. It reminded me of some of the challenges women give themselves in business. Why do women give themselves such huge challenges? Why not set smaller more manageable goals?
This isn’t going to be a sermon about mediocrity. I’m not suggesting that you lower your standards. It’s still OK to have big dreams. But why do you have to accomplish everything by tomorrow? Why isn’t it OK to take longer to accomplish what you want to do? What about giving yourself the time to work, achieve and have a life? I remember when I first started in sales. I was on the road for five days and then used Saturday as a catch up day for my paperwork. The engineer I worked with quickly counseled me. He said, “Maura, at that pace you’re going to burn yourself out.” He was right of course. Somehow I forgot. When I started my sales training company in 1997 I got four and five hours of sleep for the first eight months of working. That’s with six and a half day weeks, too. What was the hurry? Was the world going to end if I didn’t produce something in 5 months instead of a year or more? It was ridiculous. I remembered when my husband started his company 20 years ago. He wasn’t up late. He got his 8 hours of sleep. He didn’t look drained and exhausted. I finally got a grip and made a new rule. I don’t work 7 days a week. In fact, one day a week (Saturday) I won’t even open my computer. That reduces the time I can work. So be it. I’ll get there when I get there.
What’s your schedule like? Are you cramming two days of work activities into one? Do you have to do everything yesterday? Why? And, if your manager is pushing you on this crazed path of exhaustion, your job is to decline. If a new assignment is given, your job is to ask which one of the previously assigned tasks does your manager want you to delay or delegate and to whom. If you’re racing through each task without enjoying the work, you need to slow down and give yourself more time to do what you have to do. Rhoda knew she couldn’t lose 20 pounds in 2 hours. You can’t blaze through a week’s worth of work in a day either. So quit trying. You have my permission to slow down. I’ll make a prediction, too. You’ll accomplish just as much at the slower speed.