*This is part two of a series on the exhausting aspects of exhilarating work. To catch up the series, read part one here.*
There’s no sugarcoating it. It took years of long, hard work to gather all the might I needed to develop a true superpower. (And by superpower I mean the ability to do what I love and get, you know, paid for it.) Sometimes doing that work meant pulling together the necessary time from where it was least expected. Other times, I stole the time from where it was least allowed.
Whether that meant stealing an hour or two at work to write a blog post or multi-tasking at the gym to read an important book on the elliptical, the work had to get done somehow. (I’m just glad my boss never found out, and I never dropped my iPad.)
Becoming a superhero isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s worth it.
Putting in the work is tough, and the exhaustion sets in quick and unexpected. One day, you’re thrilled and on top of the world — and the next you’ve crashed and burned on the couch with no will to move and anxiety the size of Alaska. There’s a very blurry line between feeling exhilarated and feeling exhausted, and I find that it’s hard to know when one is ending and the other is beginning.
How can you manage to get to the superpower without partaking in that whole crash and burn fiasco?
Wouldn’t we all like to know?
I’m going to tell you my version, but don’t take it to be the only way. I’m sharing only because I wish someone had shared this with me a few months ago. Take what you wish, and mold it to your needs.
Solving the whole exhilaraustion problem is tricky, so let’s kill it with kindness.
Accompany me along the path to superhero exhilaraustion enlightenment.
1. Be gentle with yourself.
I’ll be the first to admit that self-imposed expectations are an express lane to exhaustion. Loving what you do is one thing, but expecting yourself to be great at every aspect of it is something completely different – and unrealistic. Getting good at your passion takes time, patience, and humility. It’s okay to need help, to delegate tasks (even if you’d love to do it all yourself), or to take a break.
Try taking a more gentle approach to your craft, allowing you to do it with more love and enthusiasm. If you feel yourself getting caught up in a whirlwind of tasks and expectations, take a step back and give yourself the space and calm to enjoy everything as it happens. How you space out your tasks is up to you, but be conscious with your levels of calm, happiness, and fulfillment along the way.
I can’t tell you how many times I had the “Let’s slow down” talk with my work partner. When you’re mother starts getting worried about how exhausted you look, you know there’s a problem. (Mother’s know best. Always.) Having that conversation over and over again helped us at Marca Labs develop a work style that was more flexible and understanding of our physical constraints.
2. Slow down and bask in the fun of your superpower.
If you’re doing what you love and spending your days in a blur, you may not be enjoying the process as much as you could be. Not everything has to get done now, today, in this moment. There’s fun in using your superpower every single day — if you allow yourself to notice.
Breathe in slowly, and notice what’s going on around you. Pressing things need to get done, yes, but there is all this excitement and love going into your work, too. Notice it, enjoy it, thrive in it. It’s there for you to revel in, to feel proud of. Letting each of those happy moments fly by would do them a disservice. Take the time to honor your passion and your work – you deserve it.
This took a while for me to learn, but it’s indispensable. After a grueling day of meetings, I was on the verge of tears when suddenly my iPod shuffled to a stand up comedy skit. I laughed at what I was hearing, and I laughed at myself. Doing what I love is supposed to be a good thing, so why let little things get in the way of my enjoyment? Fun is 100% necessary, in my book. Laugh, people — laugh.
3. Frame your way out of it.
Feeling overwhelmed is partly the fault of how our own minds frame our current situation. If our brain is telling us we’re exhausted and whittling away, our bodies will believe it. On the other hand, if our brain is saying we’re exhilarated and can deal with what’s to come by taking it one step at a time, our bodies will respond in kind.
How can you frame your current situation so you feel happier and lighter? Chances are you can spend a moment channeling just how grateful you are for having the work, talent, and opportunities you are facing. Instead of feeling exhaustion, a frame of mind centered on gratefulness can be relieving. Give it a whirl!
If I could take you back a few months, you’d be watching a movie of me feeling so deeply down on myself that I looked worse than when I had an actual 9-5 job I hated. This was horrendously pitiful. Instead of basking in my superpower, I was basking in all the administrative stuff that took me away from the superpower. After a while, I got tired of my own whiny voice and started focusing on the core mission — do everything possible to let the superpower reign free. Once I framed my tasks around that goal, guess who felt much better? (I’m not even going to answer that.)
Do you love your superpower?
The journey may be a tough one, but it’s a beautiful one, isn’t it? Exhilaraustion is a gift. Give yourself some credit and some time to breathe — the rest will fall into place. Without joy, your superpower won’t be very useful, right?
If you’re living your superpower, it’s time to treat it right, and love it for all its worth.