Are You Making Things Harder Than They Need To Be?

by helen on February 29, 2012

Have you heard the term “over-efforting”?

I first heard it from Master Mind-Body Coach Abigail Steidley on a teleclass one day.  I did a quick Google search on ‘over-efforting’ and there were almost 80,000 hits.

I so relate to this term – over-efforting.

Why?  Because I do it a lot of the time.

My go-to answer for “too much to do” has been to “just work harder”.  And harder.

Has it worked?  At times, yes to make professional deadlines (especially during my corporate days).  But as a long-term strategy and for my well-being – not so much, unless you count exhaustion as a bonus.

Deeply ingrained, and under-the-radar, beliefs were still churning  – “you HAVE to work hard… harder… harder to get there” and “laziness is very, very bad”.

What if we could we could notice the legacy beliefs that are churning like a huge background program in our minds, directing us to act a certain way, using up lots of energy, often slowing down processing times, not at all in service to our goals or dreams?

What if we could shine a light on those beliefs and release them, reducing brain over-efforting, and in effect physical over-efforting?

As last year came to a close and I started setting goals for 2012, I decided to try something new.  I decided to intentionally play more and over-effort less.

It sounds simple, but like many simplifications, it’s not always easy.

I have worked hard my entire life.  If I was required to push rocks up hill, I got my shoulder to the ground and did it, no effort spared.  In the rain and mud.  No problem.  “Where there’s a will there’s a way” was uttered through gritted teeth.

When I discovered coaching, I was like the proverbial pig in you-know-what (both as coachee and coach).  Here I was, having found the most amazing fit for my strengths, values, and experience and suddenly ‘work’ began to feel much more like play.

Not over-efforting.  Not struggling.  Not rocks up hills.  It was somewhat startling.

However, as I opened my coaching practice in 2009, having had a successful consulting practice for 4 years before that, and with corporate and academic successes in the bank, I set out with great expectations and legacy programs playing in the background.

While I completed further certifications and studies, and grew my practice, I devoted very long hours.  This new work was such a joy, I hardly noticed the hours until it was pointed out to me by my lovely husband and patient kids.

I was over-efforting.

It’s so easy to do.  And the cost is high – fatigue, exhaustion, lack of focus, backache, headaches, getting rundown…. and while the output may be still high quality, there may not be much of you left to enjoy your achievements.

So, this year, I’m noticing as the over-efforting starts to kick in.  I have set an intention for well-being, flow, playfulness, and restfulness, and while the over-efforting cycle pops up from time to time, I have hard evidence on the benefits of this revised way of being – I feel lighter, more energized, and I’m enjoying the sense of ease.

While I continue to be committed to my practice and clients, I’ve noticed that in the absence of over-efforting and struggle my practice is filling up with much less effort than I’ve ever made before.  Almost magical really.

What’s your experience of over-efforting?

What could be better if you dropped over-efforting?

Are there areas where you could bring in more rest and play?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Blanca Salinas-Hellmund March 1, 2012 at 7:04 am

Hi Helen,

Thanks again for your great insight. Unfortunately, our society is making the “over-efforting” part of our culture, our corporations are rewarding the bees that look busy and adding stress to a our lives is expected.

I totally agree with you and you inspired me to re-assess my lilfe and look in to the simple things, they may be more effective.

Regards, Blanca

helen March 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

Dear Blanca, Thanks so much for your comment and I totally agree. Over-efforting is everywhere, and in some cases it’s worn like a badge of honor, but not necessarily one that contributes to well-being, certainly in the long term… The more I read and study, it seems that simplification, and taking things out that we don’t love (whether for our lives, homes or workplace) can serve us so well ie, less is more. I’d love to hear about what comes up for you as you re-assess and make your renewed choices. All the Best, Helen

Donna March 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I recently had a conversation with my 11 year old daughter. I asked her to ask me everyday when she comes home from school “Mommy, what did you volunteer for today?” After she receives my answer, she is to say “Tell them you can’t”. I have a hard time saying NO when people need my help. Many times it’s at my own expense. The dinners get cooked. The kids get to their lessons. The groceries get bought. The laundry gets done. But, I’m exhausted at the end of the day. I will admit, I’ve gotten better at saying no. But I feel guilty sometimes sitting down to eat my breakfast instead of stealing bites in between loads of laundy and dishes. I’m glad to hear, I’m not in it alone!

helen March 2, 2012 at 9:48 am

Hi Donna, Thanks so much for your comment. I hear you! It’s wonderful that you have such a cute accountability partner, what a great idea! And it also got me thinking about a post I wrote a while ago (that I want to reread myself!) about The Open-hearted No.

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