Are You Exhausted?
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I’m more than a Professional Coach.
I am also a mother, a daughter, and a sister. I cherish profound connections with close friends in the three overlapping circles of my life, trail running, coaching, and well, life.
People confide in me with ease and trust, even outside of coaching engagements. Across all my conversations with friends and clients, the phrase I hear most often these days is, “I’m exhausted.”
This is a surprising statement on so many levels.
Firstly, these are not folks who are working 80 hour weeks!
Secondly, regardless of their age, they possess the means to travel, socialize, and enjoy their hobbies.
So why are they exhausted?
Are they spoiled, entitled, and just plain ungrateful? Why the exhaustion, if they have so much freedom, flexibility and resources?
In his groundbreaking work, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell offers this principle, “The key to achieving true expertise in any skill is simply a matter of practicing, albeit in the correct way, for at least 10,000 hours.”
That’s slightly less than 5 years of 40 hour weeks. Taking into account that my obsession with the field of human behavior and potential surfaced in my late teens, I have put in more than 40,000 hours in pursuit of this particular mastery.
So what I am about to share with you about the Exhaustion Epidemic is not science backed. It is supported by my own experience both personally and professionally.
I put it to you that the kind of existential exhaustion that so many of us are experiencing is not the result of working too hard or too long.
It is the result of living our lives half-heartedly.
As Brother Steindl-Rast once said to the poet, David Whyte, “The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. The antidote to exhaustion is whole-heartedness.”
So, for those of you who are looking to cure your exhaustion by chasing the next vacation spot, spa treatment, or simply more sleep, I have the following advice.
Taking care of your physical needs is the baseline requirement for any kind of transformation. By all means, get adequate rest, give your body regular breaks, and follow a daily practice to nurture your emotional and spiritual health.
However, meeting only the above will be insufficient if your goal is to leave behind the slow yet devastating buzz of exhaustion.
To fundamentally overcome exhaustion, ask yourself the following 15 difficult and profoundly uncomfortable questions.
And most importantly, answer them honestly, to understand where in your life you are showing up half-heartedly. Even if you choose not to do anything about it right away, you will have identified the source of your exhaustion. If nothing else it will save you all the time and money you’re spending on useless cures.
1. Do I know how to love?
2. Do I know how to enjoy my own company with ease and joy?
3. Am I in the right community, circle, and clan?
4. Do I know how to listen deeply?
5. Do I have a small circle of friends I feel safe with?
6. Have I decided what “enough” looks like for me?
7. Do I know how to slow down in a world that preaches speed?
8. Do I know how to tap into my heart and gut intelligence and not just that of my mind?
9. Am I generously sharing my gifts with others?
10. Do I know the difference between pleasure and fulfillment?
11. What is the important conversation I’m not having?
12. Do I know who/what drains my energy?
13. Do I secretly enjoy being the victim, the problem-solver, and the magnet for all manners of trouble?
14. Am I walking through my life feeling “numb” most of the time?
15. How often am I focused on what’s missing vs. what I have?
It takes extraordinary courage to live our lives wholeheartedly. But anything less is exhausting.