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.