Fatigue is a very real thing: most of us don’t think about self care until we’re completely exhausted. What if there were such a thing as resting before you retired? Can you take a break before you do the work? Or can you plan for it in advance? Request it? Schedule it?
The Non-Profit Hiring Model
This is something that runs completely counter to how most of corporate America tends to operate. If you’re like me you may have started your career and a job that had a lot of promise. My first full-time work position was in the Americorps. And as much as I love Americorps, they do run a typical non-profit business model whereby they hire extremely young, energetic talent straight out of college and then have them work exorbitant hours at very low pay. This of course leads to a lot of burnout. If you’re someone who has worked in the nonprofit sector I’m sure this scenario resonates with you. But of course the challenge of starting your career that way is that becomes your new normal.
After leaving the Americorps program, after one extremely challenging, year I found myself in a for-profit organization that still had the same talent strategy. “Get ’em young, and work ’em hard.” I was surrounded by other young and starry-eyed twenty-somethings who were all committed to the mission driven work we were doing in educating youth in our communities. But even there I found that I was working in excess of 60 hours a week, I was being paid in the mid $20,000 a year for annual salary. Not to mention that opportunities for growth were extremely limited.
Are you being rewarded adequately?
What happens to us when our mindset around work is that we are supposed to exert as much as we can for as little compensation as possible? How does that fit in to the opportunities we seek out, and ultimately are willing to accept down the road? I know for me the answer is clear. History doesn’t lie.
After leaving the after-school programming space I took a role that catapulted my career. I doubled my salary overnight (if you are keeping track that meant that by my third job I was making an average American salary of $50,000) and it wasn’t until the year-end that I realized I was still the lowest paid member of my team. Now I simply didn’t realize that when they ask how much salary you’re seeking on the application or at the interview, you’re supposed to shoot for the moon, not write in what you’d be willing to accept. I think this is the crux of how we get to exhaustion.
All this leads to exhaustion because we never actually take what we need.
So much of our work life is spent thinking about what we’re willing to accept in exchange for giving our all. We pour our hearts, our soul, our mind, our most brilliant ideas into 40+ hours a week work experience. and yet when asked what we want for it in exchange we think of the least that we could accept. Are we somehow not worthy of being adequately rewarded for our time and effort?
Resting before Retired
We don’t even think to ask. Did your career go that way? Is it going that way now? I know this could easily turn into a conversation about adequate compensation and scarcity but I’m going to leave that for another day. Instead I want to talk about degrees of tired. Fatigue is a very real thing. Most of us don’t think about self care until we can’t hold our head up anymore. I too, have fallen asleep in many a meeting. That violent head nod over the conference table, or in front of the laptop screen is not cute.
What about self care? What if there were such a thing as resting before retired? Can we not predict our energy flow?
Do we not examine what lights us up and what wears us down?
I know what happens if we don’t pause and examine those factors. It’s easy to say that we are tired because we’ve worked too much and the hours are too long. But perhaps the real culprit is that despite the long hours and the effort that you put out we haven’t asked for enough in return. Not return on money. Return on energy. Everything must come into balance.
This came into stark contrast for me recently because I did one of my favorite workouts. I’m a big fan of high intensity interval training and love a good 20-minute sweat session. But as I was watching one of my favorite workout enthusiasts from my phone I noticed at the end of a superset he acknowledged that after this workout you should do a thorough cool down and at least 20 minutes of Shavasana. 20 minutes of rest. Equal parts exertion as replenishment. It’s something that I hadn’t even thought of: the idea that we need just as much rest as we do exertion. So when you think you’re tired because of work maybe there’s something else to look for, to give yourself. That’s what’s called self care.
Degrees of Tired
Sometimes exhaustion looks like frustration. Remedy? Get more communication, aka ask more questions.
Sometimes exhaustion looks like obligation. Remedy? Seek more empathy, aka ask more about others’ needs.
Sometimes exhaustion look like low energy. Remedy? Take a break, aka ask for a vacation, a nap, a snack, a mental health day.
I’m not saying there isn’t a case for being exhausted but what I would like to consider is when those feelings of depletion show up are we willing to just sit there and take it? Or are you ready to ask for (and take) what you need, to be replenished?
Tune in for the live interview!
For more on ways of coping with your degrees of tired, check out the live interview on Wednesday with Arielle Ortiz, Life Space Coach and Professional Organizer. She’s the start of this month’s Client Spotlight interviews. You don’t want to miss it!