Molly Cranna for TIME
Advice

Why You Should Give Yourself Permission to Do Less

June 13, 2016

Don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to do more and more

Perhaps you publish prolifically or outperform in the numbers or are sought after as a speaker, advisor or mentor. Most likely, you’re constantly busy—the one who’s asked to take on more important work because there’s no question you’ll make it happen. And hopefully you feel good about what you’re accomplishing and how you’re contributing.

Any of this sound familiar?

I admire the fact that you have the heart and inner drive it takes to pursue this meaningful work. Kudos for doing work that matters! Whether or not those around you fully recognize and appreciate your impact, please take a moment to celebrate what you’ve done.

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While you’re at it, take some time to reflect on how you’ve grown in the process. Would you do it all again exactly the same way? Rather than forge ahead with more of the same, how about taking a step back?

As an executive coach, what I hear too often from outstanding (and yes perhaps slightly overachieving) people is:

“I love my job… but I’m just exhausted.”

“I’m not complaining, but I just have a lot going on.”

“My schedule’s not a problem. I have the weekend to catch up.”

“I’d love more time to [fill in blank].”

“I’d get so much more done if I didn’t have to wait for/rely on xyz, which is out of my control.”

“My current work routine really isn’t sustainable…”

Moreover, in many environments, the pressure to do more with less only exacerbates this running-on-a-treadmill feeling. It’s tempting to put the onus on the institution: “This is just how it is here.”

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Let me push back on that:

How did being high-performing lure (or trap) you into feeling you need to be even higher performing?

Remember: You are in control of you. And I strongly encourage you to give yourself permission to do less.

Before you start listing reasons you can’t do this, remember: Rarely does anyone make you do something (if so, I encourage you to ask yourself if you think this type of environment is what you really want).

So take a moment right now and think this through:

You’re doing great work.

Others know this, and they value you.

Last I checked, no company has too many amazing people who innovate, inspire others, over-deliver and make the workplace better.

Therefore, your employer/boss likely wants you to stay. They know that being happy is key to staying. Consequently, they have a vested interest in your being happy.

They don’t know what you need to be happy.

You do.

Hmmmm.

You can wait around for someone else to show you a different, better way…or you can show the way.

It takes work to clearly communicate what and how you can contribute. Make time to ask the right questions of yourself, the ones only you can answer. With your know-how and drive, you can solve a lot of other people’s problems. So the question really is: What problems are you moved to solve?

You know when you’re good. Don’t let others drive your sense of self. When you’ve earned your spot on the team, don’t hurt yourself by acting as if you’re auditioning.

Read more: Want to Be Happier? Ask Yourself This Question Every Morning

Be accountable to yourself first. Rather than assuming more is better, ask yourself what better means to you?

When you answer that, not only are you defining meaningful success for yourself—you’re also modeling for others that we can change how the system works.

Molly Tschang is principal at Abella Consulting, helping senior management unleash the power of Win as One.