For me, training is about finding your current limits and pushing them farther. After all, I’m trying to get faster, build stamina, be stronger – not run the exact speed and distance I already do, or lift the same amount I currently can.

Looking back, I spent a long period of my working life feeling like I was stagnant, doing the same thing and not improving myself. On one level that was true, but at the same time I was taking on more and more responsibility, more and more stress (often for the same pay). So I was getting better – at stretching myself thin… hooray? That’s a fact at a lot of jobs – staff gets cut, work gets added on.

Many of the people I have met and become close with on this fitness journey fall into a common personality type. We are get-it-done people, often bordering on (or pushing well into) being pleasers – willing to step up and make it happen for our friends, our family, our jobs… everyone but ourselves, typically.

When the request comes to cover this shift or take on that task, the answer is almost always going to be yes. It’s who we are. We WANT to be the person others rely on. That’s not a bad thing – to a point.

We all have our limits, though. Setting limits, making boundaries – I’m not good at it. This is the time of year when I’m reminded of that. In addition to my day job and the Foundation, I do seasonal tax work. This puts a strain on me, and indirectly my family and friends. It affects my training, and my other two jobs as well, as much as I try not to let it. After all, I’m just one man.

Of course, that didn’t stop me from volunteering when a friend asked if I knew anyone who could help with accounting for another organization. “I could do that,” I said. Mmmhmm. And when exactly would this get done, buddy boy? Heck, I even tried convincing my friend that I could easily fit it in. Fortunately (for me) they found someone else.

Would I have done it? Yes. Would it have been a bad idea? Definitely. Just keep bending, Karl!

…You Just Refuse To Bend So I Keep Bending Til I Break…

Another thing we “get-it-done/pleasers” have in common? We tend to get hooked up with users, either at work or in relationships (and sometimes both). It’s truly a perfect storm. One person is looking for someone to carry them – and the other is all too willing to say, “Jump on! I got you!”

We find ourselves getting bent farther and farther, as the user refuses to change or make any accommodation. If they do give at all, it’s often accompanied by a “look at everything I do for you” attitude designed to guilt trip into not asking for more help. So we take on more and more, until finally there’s a break.

My worst user was at a previous job. They would take and take, and I kept giving more and more of me. A lot of this was before The Boy was born, which made it that much harder after he joined us to reset limits.

That’s the rub: we get so far down the road that when a break happens, we try to correct the situation and make changes. By then, the other person is so used to getting their way all the time that it becomes a major blowout, and an even bigger issue. We try to make it workable on both sides (because that’s who we are), but that taker is going to keep pushing for their advantage. It’s who they are.

Stand Your Ground

How do you challenge yourself to grow but not overextend? Well, I may not be the best to ask. After all, I am running myself ragged right now. The truth is I’m choosing to do these things. I WANT to work out – so I make time for it. I WANT to earn the extra money so I do the taxes.

It matters to me, so I make it work. I just have to find the line. I have taken much-needed actual rest days from exercise the last two Saturdays. Last time I took a rest day? Ummm… October?

Last year I scheduled myself something like 17 straight days at the tax office. I blamed them, but the truth is I made myself available. That was horrib-awful. My brain was a mushy mess by the end – I was way past bending! So I learned, and this year I am taking days off, even during the peak periods.

Saying no can be tough. Drawing a line and holding it isn’t easy. But all the self-respect and self-care I’ve learned over the last years means nothing if I can’t realize I deserve to be treated right, by others and myself. So I am working to get better at this saying no thing. (The Boy would tell you I’ve always been pretty good at it…)

My best advice is to find the things that matter to you and start there. Then add in the other stuff – but always make room for yourself. If you must bend, bend for you.

Photo by Indian Yogi (Yogi Madhav) on Unsplash