All or Nothing

I lead a lifestyle that is very much one of all or nothing.

I am either all in, or all out.

I struggle with anything less then my best.

I do not believe in half-assing it.

I don’t hang out in shades of gray.

This has always been my personality.  I can trace it back to something as simple as my room when I was a small child – it was either disastrously messy or perfectly clean.  Never anywhere in between.

And so, here I am, after quitting my high stress job, taking a year of my life to work through multiple pregnancy losses and learn to live a more balanced life.  And what do I have to show for it?

Well, evidently for me, some things just don’t change!

Now that I’m working again, it has become obvious to me.  One thing I forgot to work on was my all or nothing approach to life.  I went from 150% at work to 0%.  And as much as I promised myself I’d only be working part time, I’m right back at 150%.

A few weeks ago I put in over 30 hours in the span of 2 days, and definitely over 50 hours that week.  Then I dropped to less then 10 hours a week for a few weeks.  And now, I’m staring down at another 60+ hour work week.  I feel a bit like a ping pong ball getting hit back and forth, never quite sure where I am going next or when the game is going to end.

And to make matters worse, I feel like I’m behind right now.  Last week, I had work to do and I didn’t do it.  Instead, I did nothing.  Or maybe, I really should just say that I procrastinated and I breathed.  Which of course, now results in feelings of being overwhelmed.

Really, it’s just not an ideal place to be.

And, I honestly, don’t know how this keeps happening.

  1. First, I don’t understand how I have so much work.  I’m not looking for the work, it just keeps showing up.  The economy isn’t great, so why is it that I just keep getting work?!  (Sure there’s probably a compliment in there somewhere about people choosing to want me, but that’s not the point right now).
  2. Second, I’ve even tried saying no, and yet I seem to just be getting more and more work.  I have no idea how it keeps happening and I’m honestly not sure what to do about it.  Because clearly I don’t know how, how does one say no effectively?
  3. Third, I don’t understand why I am not using my time more appropriately.  I had a few weeks of down time where I could have gotten ahead on some projects and I didn’t.  Instead, I chose to buy some baby stuff, deal with a frustrating cell phone provider, buy some groceries and even make some home cooked meals.  These are all very valid things to do, particularly since I’m only supposed to be working part time, but realistically due to my backlog of work I simply don’t have the time right now to procrastinate.

I’m tired.  I don’t know how I cannot get some of this stuff straight.

I’m frustrated that after over a year of learning to live better, I still don’t have it down right.

I’m sick of feeling like I’m just moving from one mess to another, cleaning up other people’s messes. As someone very wise said to me recently, I’ve been hired to make chicken salad from chicken shit.

I’m exhausted of feeling like I’m constantly going one thousand miles a minute.  I swear, if you saw me, half the time I’d look like a deer in headlights because it seems no matter what I do, a new crisis is thrown my way.

And, if I’m being honest, the biggest problem isn’t that I don’t love what I am doing.  Rather, it’s that I am sick of doing it.   Honestly, I just don’t want to be doing any of this.  I don’t want to be working full time to pay for an expensive international adoption, and I don’t want to be shopping online to fill our nursery.

Rather, I want our nursery full with life.  I want to be awake in the middle of the night feeding our child, and singing off-key lullabies and I even want to be crying because I’m so exhausted from raising our baby 24/7.

It’s simply exhausting waiting for something that I want more then I can put words to.

I just want to be a mom already.

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36 Comments on “All or Nothing

  1. I feel ya. I was just thinking today that I feel pretty much exactly like that (apart from no impending baby from afar!). I sent someone some newborn presents (I can’t face going to see them) and I just thought, seriously… Is it ever going to be me? I had a bit of a pity party for myself. And I’m also working from home today so I am being distracted by Dog and there are a million other things I’d rather do than dial into interminable conference calls or make PowerPoints. I get exactly how you feel.

    I guess it may be harder for you because you are working for yourself rather than someone else… Although I suppose it is swings and roundabouts, because I kinda feel like if I was working for myself, at least I would benefit! I feel like I’m just bored with stuff a lot of the time, and I do it because I need to pay our bills and I’m hoping that one day we will have a little baby to put it towards. We do fantasise about giving it all up and living a more simple life but that never seems to happen!

    Anyway what I’m trying to say is that I think everyone has those days. I know I do. And it must be difficult for you knowing that you’re so close… and yet so far. I think the trick is trying to keep adding things to look forward to and to just put up with stuff on the way (the waiting! agh, the waiting!). I mean, we can only hope that there’s better stuff around the corner. Otherwise we might as well give up! I hope that this week is a little less crazy. I work in an industry where it’s very similar – I’m pretty much working 18hr days or taking it easy, so I understand that a bit. I think when you’re less busy, your mind starts wandering which is the bad thing! 🙂 Hope this week is better for you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I really appreciate knowing that you get it Nara! I do think the point about working for myself is a bit of double edged sward. On the one side, I have full control over what I do and I also have no horrible bosses to deal with, and I get hte full financial benefit of all the hours I put in. On the other hand, really, my clients dictate my schedule. As much as I would love to set boundaries and say I’m already do this so I cannot do that, the reality is if an emergency happens and I’m needed, I really don’t have a choice. I have no-one else to send in my place, it’s on my shoulders and only my shoulders.
      Anyways, thanks again for getting it.

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  2. I understand the feeling of being overworked. I’m living that right now, and I hate it so much. Finding balance is wonderful, and its the way we should all live, but it is HARD for so many of us to achieve!

    I think your dedicated approach will serve you well in parenthood. When you pour 150% into your baby/child, it will pay in beautiful dividends.

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    • I know the struggle to find balance is a common problem for many people, but I just want a magical fairy to drop from the sky and give me a regular schedule! (Okay, let’s be honest, if I could have a magical fairy I’d rather them drop out of the sky and give me a baby, which will only make my search for balance 1000 times harder!)

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  3. I wish I had some sort of advice or wisdom to share, but all I can really say is that I totally understand how hard it can be to find work/life balance or really just balance at all. We’re all a work in progress.

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  4. I’m terrible at it, but it sounds like you could benefit from using a planner. Let’s say you know project A will take you 40 hours, then block out a week for just that project. If someone contacts you to work on something, advise them that they’ll have to wait X amount of weeks until there is room on your schedule; the add them in. If you do this you might be able to keep yourself from having 60 hour weeks and too many projects. You’re working for yourself, so you set your own schedule. Own that and control your workload.

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    • I love your approach! That’s EXACTLY what my counsellor said when I talked to her about it. Yet, I seem to be absolutely horrible at doing it. And there seems to be a lot of unexpected situations right now where they are urgent needs that require tight turnaround times.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol, I need to follow my own advice. I’m terrible at keeping a calendar.
        Ok, for these last minute projects… Repeat after me… “No, I’m sorry, I have x number of other projects and will not be able to meet that deadline. In the future if you give me two weeks notice, I would be happy to help.” I know saying this is scary because you don’t want to lose clients, but your health is more important.

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  5. You’re a hard worker. Being self-employed kinda makes it worse sometimes. I remember when I was still practicing, I would work 21 consecutive days in a row. It’s kinda tricky because when you’re self-employed, your next paycheck isn’t guaranteed, so you tend to air on the side of caution and work when you can. Clearly, this isn’t working so well for you, but you’ve identified it, which is the first step in making change happen.

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      • Lol. Yes, we are both crazy hard workers. It’s terrible for us, but good for those who we work for. DW scolded me at 5pm for still being at work today. I just can’t help it. I just need everything to be done and done perfectly before I feel like I can go home and relax. Not that I’m relaxing right now. I’m sitting in the living room marking and avoiding eye contact with my wife who is probably annoyed that I’m doing work at 9pm on a Friday.

        You and I need rehab or to start a Workaholics Anonymous.

        Seriously lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Okay, you told me to stop working earlier tonight, I think you really need to stop working! Go do something fun with your wife, you two aren’t going to have too many more friday evenings where you can just snuggle with each other or go out for a late dinner.
        And yes, Workaholics Anonymous is a must for both of us. We could probably actually make a go of it as a business and be successful at it, as we work 80 hours a week telling everyone else not to! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. *sigh* I get this all so much. Procrastination is my middle name. I am getting better with age and have no real tricks I can offer you except to keep trying. I make deals with myself. If I do X amount of backlog work that day I can then do fun stuff. That sometimes works but not always 🙂 I wish the wait was over for you so much xx

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  7. I was exhausted reading about your work schedule–I don’t blame you at all for stopping to breathe and procrastinating. I hope that your wait goes by so quickly and you can get that nursery filled with beautiful life soon. The wait is so hard, and it definitely makes prioritizing time difficult when there’s all these things that you’d rather be doing. I can relate completely — I brought school stuff home over the weekend, but spent most of the time getting our house ready for getting the nursery ready, a trend that I think will probably continue. I’d just rather get ready for that mystery baby than do the other stuff. 🙂 I hope you can balance out all your obligations, and that the wait is just marching toward that endpoint!

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    • Thanks Jess! Yes, some days work really is exhausting right now! I keep hoping it will slow down, and yet it just keeps getting busier.
      Thanks for understanding how hard the wait is, I really do appreciate knowing that i’m not alone in that frustration.

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  8. Your last few sections of this could be me writing, starting with the “And, if I’m being honest, the biggest problem isn’t that I don’t love what I am doing. Rather, it’s that I’m sick of doing it.”
    I feel the exact same way lately. I’m just so tired of doing my job right now, it’s not even funny. I feel like I have no heart left to put into it. All of my heart has been sucked into TTC and trying to work my way through the labyrinth that it is. It’s sucked the life out of me…plus I’m just tired of the BS that comes with this job in general, and those things I cannot change. I just feel like I need a huge life change, and the biggest one that I want is to be a mom. Who knows when that will ever happen. I feel like until it does, I just won’t be happy.
    I’m not sure how to get past this, so I’m not really sure how to tell you to get past this. It’s frustrating and maddening. We’ll just have to be there to help support each other through it.
    Maybe you can try to limit yourself on your work…only book yourself about 30 hours/week, and make sure that’s what you do. Make yourself get those hours in even if you don’t feel like it, and limit yourself the times you feel like you’re doing too much. I know that’s probably way easier said than done, but it’s all I’ve got for you. Oh, and *hugs* 🙂

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    • Amy, I hate that you feel the exact same way. I’m not surprised that you do, in fact I’d be surprised if you felt anything different. But honestly, I just hate that you feel this way! I hate that you are stuck in this same position of wanting something and yet not having it, and at the same time working stupid days just passing the time.
      P.S. my counsellor also suggested the setting a schedule thing and working with it. I only wish I could do it and stick to it….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, it sucks, but what can you do? Nothing, really. I think you should do that schedule thing! Maybe explain to your employers as well what you are doing and why. There’s nothing wrong with setting limits for yourself, especially when it comes to stuff like that!

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  9. I can totally relate to the “all or nothing” mentality. I’ve never been one who can take the “middle of the road” and I’m pretty extreme when it comes to things. I go full force or I don’t attempt it at all. I know that while it’s not the best way to be all of the time this is why you have been successful in the things that you do. And while it might not feel like you have been successful just yet this type of mentality has helped you get to where you are. I understand the exhaustion that you described especially when it comes to waiting. Waiting really sucks and it’s so hard for people like us when so much of it is out of our control. For what it’s worth I think you’re doing an amazing job!

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  10. Although I don’t like that you’re having a rough time finding balance in your work life, I’m right there with you on the sick of waiting. I tend to procrastinate myself which is why it took 7 months to get all our adoption paperwork in. Sometimes, as were waiting for what we really want, work and even life in general seems so overwhelming. Sending you hugs and love and hope that you’ll be able to find some balance!

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  12. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Sometimes we all need downtime to call our cell phone company and bitch, or whatever, you know! Whether it takes your mind off the tough stuff or just helps you knock down your to do list, you must have needed it.

    I find myself always waiting for something. Someone once told me that I’m missing out on life while I’m waiting for my life to start. I’m not even sure what they meant but I feel like there’s a message somewhere in there…

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    • Thank you Stefanie. I think you are right, there is something in that line, and it’s hard when you are forced to wait even though you don’t want to. I guess that’s just why we have to learn to make the best out of circumstances even when we really don’t like them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  15. Gosh, I really hope you get some good news soon. I know what it’s like to be working crazy hours and it can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it takes your mind off the endless WAITING and ups and downs, but on the other hand the exhaustion that comes with a crazy work schedule is never good for your health. Like Stefanie, I’ve recently been told that I should “work to live, not live to work”. While I agree with the sentiment, it’s easier said than done when the “living” that you want is totally out of your control! At the end of the day, if I wasn’t working I’d just be fretting about TTC (we’re still at that stage), googling all my symptoms and statistics on TTC and eating my own (sizeable) body weight in chocolate! I have everything crossed that you get some good news soon and that things start moving in the right direction x

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    • Thank you so much for your encouragement! I think you are right about trying to “work to live, not live to work” but also realizing that it’s really hard to do when the “living” we want is beyond out control. It’s hard being on the sidelines, passing the days just doing what we have to rather then what we want to.
      Best wishes to you as well! 🙂

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