View Full Version : Question of the week: Are you aware of your maximum work threshold?
06-12-2011, 09:10 PM
You know, your breaking point? Have you seen it?
I'm reminded of this famous movie line: "how much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?" (Which by the way, I hadn't been in a fight in my life until about two years ago when someone "accidentally" broke into our home)
But seriously, how can you know exactly how much you can handle, or even what to say yes or no to if you don't know your real limit?
What do you think? Do you know you're breaking point?
And if you've seen it, what did you learn from it?
06-12-2011, 09:47 PM
Wao Joe... Somebody broke in my home. We had the same issue the difference was that Lucy was alone and she scared him off. Growing up in the Inner city, being in the military, and working as a bartender I have had my share of fights (not counting when I practiced Judo while in the military).
I can go back to when I left college and since I had been in the military I thought I did not have a breaking point I thought that the fact of some of military training I went by would help me stay on track and not even have to sleep.
Today I was even thinking about this for some weird reason. I remember I finished my accounting degree had a full time job (with a 2 hours commute each way) was studying for the CPA exam, and was also training (at the time I was a military instructor for army reserves and was preparing to go to drill sergeant school) I thought I was super man and could handle it all.
My body started failing me in many occasions I fell asleep on the wheel by driving, I had a small accident because I was so exhausted my body did not react quick enough, I had my blood pressure really high (keep in mind I was 22 at the time), I also took caffeine pills to keep me awake, and so many other issues. Finally I realized I had to cut back many things so I left the military and moved to a place where I Could take a train commute no driving.
Years later I know when I am reaching that point and I quickly stay away from things that might put my health in risk.
It was until that moment that I realized the everyone has a breaking point even me.
06-13-2011, 08:45 AM
I was lucky (I think). I hit my breaking point in college and then a few more times after - I"m a slow learner apparently : ).
Essentially, I just worked nonstop for months - school, work, travel - I got sick, almost couldn't finish a semester...had to rest, no choice.
I've hit a breaking point in jobs, too, where I just couldn't stand to be there anymore.
My issues is that I'm an optimist at heart and think that any situation can get better if I just try harder. But the reality is that sometimes working harder is not working smarter and some situations can't be fixed if you're not the one calling the shots.
I've learned lots from hitting the wall. I've learned my limits and I've also learned how it feels to start getting burned out.
And it's interesting this comes up now, because just this weekend I realized I"m heading into that burnout place. I know this because I sometimes just want to run away and hide... : ). The need to escape is always my first sign. Of course I can't escape, so this leaves me with choices to make.
I don't just need a break, I need to develop a new way of doing some things. There needs to be a shift in some of what I'm doing - a shift to do work that's more rewarding and a shift to do it within a different set of parameters (working days/hours, how I'm paid, etc).
The problem with burnout is if you let it go too far, you're too far gone to make the shifts before things really fall apart. At least now that I know what I'm dealing with , I can catch it before that point and avoid greater difficulties down the road.
06-13-2011, 09:13 AM
There has already been two great answers to this question Joe, and I feel it's because it is a good question...
Do we need to find our breaking point?
I would say yes. As another famous quote "everyone should be bankrupt before 30" I fell to really know what you're able / not able to do, you need to find that out.
And, what have you learned if you have found your point?
Slightly different than those above, I found my tipping point a little latter than College (but not by much), and a few times as well. In snowboarding, I quickly found my breaking point when I was coaching a group of amazing athletes out west. They were much younger than me, and I wanted to show them that "the old man still could pull it off" - I got high marks for trying, but luckily didn't injurer myself to badly.
In business, I've found the need to slow down. Many of us here are likely "starters" we like to see what we can do, often putting an extreme deadline on accomplishments. After hitting the wall, I quickly found myself slowing everything down. No to the point of fear, but to the point of "is this something I really want / should be doing?" It allowed me to evaluate what I was doing, and make overall better choices.
06-13-2011, 10:12 AM
Interesting question. I tend to think "breaking point" is a state of mind, and states of mind are able to be adjusted. (The one caveat I see to that is physical... sometime the body can only do so much!) I do see those moments as shifts of thinking, or a new awareness of thinking that wasn't there before. You choose to pay attention and follow that new path, or continue on. But that's a positive, not something that "breaks" you.
06-13-2011, 10:33 AM
I met my breaking point while at New York Chiropractic College. I call myself a type "AA" personality...I'm competitive, yet quiet and calm on the surface. I was taking on a Doctorate and Master's degree simultaneously, co-authored a textbook chapter, was the captain of my basketball team, and had started a Public Health club on campus. I was also working nights at the library where read pretty much their whole business and finance book section, lots of journal abstracts and figured, everyone else was studying, I might as well get paid to study. I was the first car at the school, and the last to leave.
I still felt cool and collected, yet started getting heart palpitations. I had bit off more than I could chew. I remember the heart palpitations waking me out of sleep and being awake at 3-4 in the morning, taking my own blood pressure trying to figure out what was going on and whether I needed to go to the ER. I discontinued the club, took some pressure off myself and the palpitations went away. I realized that I was trying to be an expert on way too many things, needed to focus and hone in, something I still have trouble with.
06-13-2011, 11:05 AM
I agree with Cindi, that it's a state of mind. Even 99% of the physical stuff, as there is always a way to think how to do it more efficiently.
06-13-2011, 12:32 PM
My breaking point is always reached when my body shuts down - yes, it has happened several times. When I thought it was all a state of mind, I developed debilitating migraines.
When each breaking point happened, I slowed down, or stopped, and started thinking. I analyzed what had happened and why it happened. One of the biggest reasons for reaching the breaking point was taking on too much. It is so easy to do. Just one more task until the load becomes too heavy.
The internet brings a huge advantage to business today. As I write this, I think of AJBombers and how the internet can't replace the great people, great service, great food and unique experience. A closer look reveals that ordering and advertising and chatter can be realized through the internet for AJBombers.
I had an active jewelry business at http://Brogan-Arts.com, but it became more than we could handle. (That is another story for another day.) For any artisan, or business person, I think the internet can be a great asset.
In any business, think before you start something new. Look at the the pros and cons and how much time it will require for you to do this new task. Will this new task be too heavy to carry.
06-13-2011, 04:51 PM
Reading thru this string reminded me of the movie, "The Out of Towners" - not the remake - the original with Jack Lemmon... He travels from Chicago to NYC for a big job interview -- his wife comes along. They experience one nightmare after another. He's keeping a list of all the people who screwed up, as he approaches his breaking point. I won't spoil the end, except to say that it includes a happy epiphany (and one more Jack Lemmon comedic gem).
As a solopreneur, I've had my fair share of "Out of Towner" days --- Times when I'm executing flawlessly ;) but the rest of the world is screwing up big time. I'm a work in progress, but I'm getting better at remembering to hit my pause button and step away to cool off during these moments. When I return, 99% of the time, things aren't as bad as I thought they were when I was in the heat of battle.
06-13-2011, 05:24 PM
Right now, I feel like its breaking point everyday. Too much to do, being pulled in too many directions, trying to get the work filtered to a sustainable level. I think its the physical health, mental health and financial health tornado that pushes my buttons.
I have a hard time picking out the important items to stress about for real and get done, so that the rest is seen in the right light.
06-13-2011, 05:48 PM
Wow so much great feedback here and it's made me think of the breaking points in my life and it mostly because I have taken on too much, wanted to help too many people and not taking the time for myself. I think I know (for me ) what my breaking point is and I have learned how to say no (this is especially hard for me, everything sounds so fun and has potential to be great) and even to move things off my plate once I have taken then on before it gets to be too much, I'm not perfect but I am learning to listen to my body and adjust.
06-14-2011, 08:44 PM
Hmm, breaking points. Sure I've had few rough patches (most self-inflicted in hindsight) but breaking points would infer that I quit or lost somehow. Nope, haven't actually found my "breaking point" and I'd like to think that as long as I keep waking up each day I can fix all the other stuff given enough time.
Joe touched on a GREAT point today during the show, about the dangerous tension that can develop when you are expected to be giving X amount to work AND home at once. Because X always = more than 100%, and what happens is you get put in a spot where no matter what you do, you are GOING to be letting someone down, which only adds to the existing stress. Sustaining more than 100% isn't possible.
More often than not you cave to the pressures of work, because as Joe said "we tend to fear them more than family" (paraphrasing)
What happens in this situation is your stress compounds, knowing that not only are you giving MORE than 100%, but that it's apparently not enough because your spouse AND supervisors are acting like YOU are the problem. :confused: It's a horrible situation. My previous job was in a creative dept. for a marketing agency. Often this required late nights trying to respond to last minute RFPs. Which meant making the obligatory call home to say "I'm stuck here" -- this was NEVER well received. Often the reaction from the spouses/partners in our beleaguered department was simply "Well, tough. We need you here, just leave. You've done enough." Yet as much as you'd LOVE to just walk out and go home, you don't. Because this is war. You are in the trenches with your people, and you don't leave your people. Not ever.
The "just leave now" response was simply loved ones expressing their frustration at the situation we were in...but what it seems they didn't realize was this only antagonized our stress. Because we were getting the same response from higher-ups at work. Talk about a Catch-22! There you are, trying to work hard for your employer and your family, yet they are piling on stress from both ends because you are trying so hard! Not fun at all. I've seen it push good people to a not-so-good place, and am thankful that I had an opportunity to get out of that toxic environment before it took me down.
06-15-2011, 12:59 AM
Breaking point for me is and always will be when I am restrained. When I cannot fix, create a solution due to sources outside of my control, it stifles me. It has been and will always be my breaking point. Not in a bratty way that I cannot get what I want. It is like finally getting to the front of the line and then the window closing.
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