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Slow Down Before You Burn Out

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If you had to give one word that described how you were feeling right now, what would it be?

My answer last week when asked was quite simple -- exhausted. I had had a marathon week, co-ordinating and attending three events in two days, and in three cities. Too much driving, too many details to remember, and all told, frankly, just too much.

Do you ever do that to yourself? Your calendar looks all neat and manageable at the beginning of the month and then all of a sudden it is jam-packed with meetings, conference calls and, in my case, also events. No wonder the paperwork and thinking time gets lost in the shuffle, never mind some down time for myself.

Right now my life is even more complicated in that I run two offices from different locations and you can always bet that the document I need is at the other office. I have also come to realize that I forget to allow for travel time between destinations and with the winter weather, to allow extra time to get there -- and for me, being on time matters.

So what is the answer? It boils down I think to another word -- "no." I am sure like other entrepreneurial women I have a tendency to say "yes" when in reality, I truly should decline, especially if I want to protect myself, do a good job at what I have committed to and most importantly, stay healthy.

But I don't. Why is that? Like many women, I find it hard to say no. I like to be needed. I tend to think I am invincible, that I can take on new projects without any detrimental impact to what I already have on the go. Another factor is my ego. It feels good to be recognized for your expertise, to be in demand and so when we feed into that, we spread ourselves too thin, and as a result, run the risk of doing nothing well.

It is a real risk for entrepreneurs because we get excited easily by new ideas, new projects and a change to the routine. Bottom line, we tend to get bored so new projects have a real appeal, regardless of what else we may have on our plate. It takes great discipline to sit down and determine priorities, and even more steel to stick to what we have decided, especially if it feels like we are narrowing our horizons.

I don't know about you, but my interests are broad. But I recognize after this hectic week that I need to take myself in hand; that I need to follow the advice that I give others. I need to focus.

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It's about determining priorities, setting goals and focusing on making them a reality. Sounds so simple doesn't it? Hmm. Maybe part of it is that I hate to limit myself. Life to me is all about possibility. My trouble is I see opportunities at every turn.

While for some this would appear to be a real advantage, when you are susceptible to over-stretching yourself, it can be a problem. But one thing for sure, life is never dull.

And that maybe is just it. Routine and schedules feel a tad boring and yet are a necessity. My theory is that you hire or contract people to do the routine work so you are free to work to your strengths; to build and deliver on your vision. But in the early days, that can just be financially out of the question.

People often comment that they don't know how I manage it all. But you know what, I am not so sure that I do. Yes, I juggle a lot. Yes, I am high energy. But there are weeks, like this one, when I want to stop being the hamster on the treadmill.

Maybe it's time to get off, because while the hamster may be nocturnal, I am not. I need my sleep and burning the candle at both ends, is not for me, anymore. Maybe when I was younger, but not now.

So it all boils down to that ongoing, current quest for balance, which is different for all of us. But it is important to determine what works for you. We do disservice to those we love if we burn out and overstretch ourselves, because bottom line -- family matters and our well-being is key to holding the family together.