Reasons include fear, lack of confidence, trying to do too much, lack of energy — all of which have afflicted me from time to time, especially trying to do too much. This year, in particular, I’ve discovered I’m simply no longer able or willing to work evenings and weekends. I just plain run out of steam and my brain turns to mush by about 4 pm. So much for fitting in a smaller project or catching up on my accounts in the evenings!
In some ways this is a good thing. We seem to work far too much in our society anyway. Here in Wellington, capital of New Zealand, and dominated by government, there’s a culture of rush and hurry, urgency, deadlines, and I get sucked in just as much as anyone.
Add to that my own personal standards of high quality and keeping my word, along with a frequent tendency to overestimate what I can do and underestimate the time it takes and it’s a recipe for stress and anxiety. Pollard mentions this too:
Trying to Do Too Much: Most of us allow ourselves to set expectations far too high for what we can accomplish well and reasonably in a fixed amount of time, and allow others to set unreasonable expectations of us.
His advice is simple to word and hard to implement:
Trust your instincts to tell you what to do, what not to do, when to persevere and when to give up and try something else.
When I started out being self-employed, around 10 years ago I couldn’t believe people would actually pay me to help them with their Macs. It was such fun, I would have paid them for the opportunity (If I’d had the money). As the years went by I worked with hundreds of people over thousands of hours until in 2004 I realised I couldn’t do it any more. Questions made me anxious and secretly annoyed. I no longer wanted to drive out to see people to show them how to get their printer working again. As of the end of 2004 I stopped providing all helpdesk and support services.
What I didn’t have the courage to admit to myself though was that actually I was also sick of one to one and group training. Teaching and training are a big buzz — you can see lives change as people learn to become confident around a computer and whip up a spreadsheet or toss off an email, grab photos from their camera, buy anti-virus software online and install it themselves. My clients often tell me with pride of their achievements and it’s very satisfying to know I’ve contributed to that empowerment.
Even so, after some 30 years of teaching and training, I’m tired of it and have now finally decided to step back from that personal training for a while. For the moment I’m trying to focus my attention on writing and web design. The saying “No” is so hard …