The Blog.


4 Feb 2008 | Being Human, Work Life Rhythm

I never really understood the phrase ‘burning the candle at both ends’. I get that this would obviously burn it out quicker, but a candle is a finite source of energy. It doesn’t get topped up or renewed. However slowly or quickly you burn it, it will eventually burn out.

People are not candles. The ones that shine the brightest don’t always fade the quickest, and if I find myself feeling like I hardly shine at all, I’m not conserving energy – I’ve run out.

The good news is that our energy is renewable. We can recover from stress, recharge our energy, renew our passion. The trick is knowing when and how.

And it’s the ‘when’ that I’ve been pondering today, so I’ll leave the ‘how’s for another day.

We live in a world today that is abundant in both possibilities and pressures. Yes, it is possible to be mortgage free by the age of 40, have a successful career and raise happy healthy children, hold down two jobs plus your own business and contribute to your community – you can have your cake and eat it – as long as you’re still awake and well, actually able to eat!

We all have a tendency to cut a few corners to reach a deadline or fit in that little bit extra – skipping lunch, working late, multi-tasking – it’s that fantastic double-edged sword called flexibility.

All the more reason to know when too much is too much for you, to know what your own personal warning signs are – you know, so it doesn’t take waking up in the cardiac ward to realise you’ve gone too far, for example:

  • Basic needs like sleeping and eating – if you’re too busy to eat, or too stressed to sleep
  • Silly mistakes in simple daily routine things. My personal one is when I dished up cold sweetcorn straight from the fridge to accompany a hot dinner. Another one that’s just been shared with me – when there’s so much going on you put the dishwasher tablet in your mug of coffee!
  • Creature comforts and sacred rituals – what do you normally always do, that completes your day? I spoke to someone recently who knows something is seriously wrong if she doesn’t find time to read. Or maybe it’s a hot bath, a walk, quiet time or even washing your hair.

So, what are your early warning signs? When do you know that you’re running low? How does your battery bleep to say you need a top up?

Remember, though, the whole point is to tell yourself when you’re in need of some fun of recharging – NOT an excuse to beat yourself up for not having immaculate hair!

1 Comment

  1. Rosalyn

    I think you might be right about this being a niche… Or at least a passion!

Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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