Everyone wants a piece of you

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BOUNDARIES, BURNOUT, AND BALANCE! Everyone wants a piece of you. Have you ever had that feeling? I have. It is a wonderful and blessed experience to have gifts and talents that are beneficial to and desired by others.  Socialised Mavericks, those gifted leaders that others naturally follow, know this sensation as a privilege and also potentially a curse. 

Without the protection of healthy boundaries, leaders are at risk for burn-out which can feel like a scalded road to bitterness, resentment, and rage. I remember changing churches years ago and basking in my newfound anonymity.  No one knew how many classes I could teach, presentations I could give, or boards I could manage. I was “no one” for awhile and I needed that brief respite. 

Leaders naturally lead as if it’s etched onto their DNA strand and will eventually manifest in virtually every situation, given time. An “Inc” article (April 26. 2019)  indicated that according to the global analytics firm Gallup, about 1 in 10 people possess the talent to manage. So, for the leaders who possess what 90% of the population does not, it is imperative that healthy boundaries be set and practiced ensuring appropriate and strong leadership.

Boundaries help us ensure there will always be gas in our tank so we can meet our goals and support others but also have power to challenge our ceiling. Socialised Mavericks are made for challenging and questioning the status quo. If their dusty gas tank relegates them to routine pablum then it isn’t unusual for clinical depression to set in and further deplete them of energy, concentration, and motivation. 

So how do we protect ourselves from overwhelm and ensure mental bandwidth for our curiosity, challenge, and passion?

First, find the balance between boredom and burnout. This has been a challenge for me. I process information quickly, so boredom is always around the corner, and it has proven to be the bane of my existence! Prior to graduate school, I would get “twitchy” in class, start talking to my classmates (even during lecture), then walk out to roam the halls while perusing bulletin boards only to end up in the bathroom splashing cold water on my face. During some sermons at church, I would imagine myself to be lava flowing down and under the pew in front of me. 

As an attempt to staunch my boredom, I would seek out new projects, launch new businesses, and assume more leadership roles. Then, as all the new expectations culminated and bore down on me like an avalanche, I would become overwhelmed, angry, and have to fight the urge to bolt into witness protection. I thought moving to a remote island, dying my hair, changing my name, and setting up a seaside hut selling souvenir trinkets and suntan lotion sounded like a fine idea.

Apparently, changing one’s identity due to overwhelm is frowned upon so I had to come up with something else.  Turns out, practicing healthy boundaries is just the ticket!

You learn finesse over time via wisdom so have patience with yourself. Once you have located some semblance of balance between boredom and burnout, give yourself permission to say, “Not right now” when asked to do more. You’re not saying you’ll never do it, just not right now. They say good is the enemy of great and I don’t disagree. If you want to be great, your boundaries will keep your tank full so you can scale new heights and focus your performance power.

Second, consider taking smaller bites as you “level up.” If your “to do” list has become a mass threatening your sanity, then either choose one small task at a time or set a timer for how long you can legitimately focus before your work product begins to suffer. 

Third, pat yourself on the back for even the smallest of gains. There was a time when I was so overwhelmed that it felt like drowning and, if I’m honest, sometimes I thought drowning might be easier. During those times I learned to ask myself at the end of each day, “Dana, are you any farther ahead today than you were yesterday?” If I was, I considered the box checked and there was never a day when the answer wasn’t “Yes.” Even if I knew one answer that I didn’t know the day before, that was enough.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

Martin Luther King, Jr
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Dana Skaggs
I have a master’s degree in clinical psychology and am a licensed psychotherapist. I have been in private practice for 15 years specializing in anxiety and adjustment issues along with trauma work. I have been a board member for the Intermountain Psychological Association for 4 years and have been elected for 2 more. I am a frequent guest on WJHL Daytime Tri-Cities discussing how to navigate the emotional terrain of everyday problems. I also contributed to the article “Second Opinions: How You Can Leverage Mindset to Change Behaviour” in the Journal “A Plus” from the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The podcast I launched in 2020, Phoenix and Flame (tagline: “pushing through and transforming even when you feel like a pile of ash”), is globally ranked in the top 5% and is also consistently ranked in the top 5% on PodMatch, a podcast booking platform. Due to my personal and professional experience, I have earned the moniker, “The Queen of Boundaries” and have developed several online boundaries courses as well as workshops.