Short and sweet post here:
In my athletic career I was a relatively successful track & field athlete (called athletics internationally). Nothing crazy but enough to earn me an opportunity at the NCAA Division One level. Anyway, I used to get asked a lot about how to breathe when I was running so hard. People would say, "I like running but I get out of breath and have to stop." Well my response was always the same: I am pretty much out of breath from the first lap, or even the first curve, of whatever race I was running! The only thing was I knew how far I needed to run, I wanted to compete and do my best, so that made stopping just not acceptable. I realized that I may be out of breath, I may be tired, but my muscles can still go so I will see how far they can take me...
To my big epiphany today: I was sharing that thinking with someone else today and it occurred to me that even though I am no longer a competitive athlete that mindset has taken hold in my personal and professional life. " How do you get so much done everyday?" Well, I don't feel terrible everyday but I definitely get tired and run out of steam at times. But what I have realized is that I have never felt the need to quit so I might as well just keep going! People tell me I would love to read more, or exercise more, etc, but I just get so tired. Well, we all get tired so if that gets to all of us you may as well get tired doing things that will push you, make you better, and make your life more fulfilling and happier. I am "out of breath" most days but I just decide to keep going.
I am reminded of the movie "The Guardian" with Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner in which the latter plays a seasoned, legendary rescue swimmer for the Coast Guard and the former plays a newbie with a ton of potential. Kutcher's character continues to ask Costner's, "How do you decide who lives or dies?" because ultimately as a rescue swimmer you will just never be able to save everyone. Costner's character replies, "I swim as fast and as hard as I can for as long as I can. And the sea takes the rest." So ultimately we all just have to decide what that means for ourselves. For me I choose to go as hard as I can for as long as I can and I guess I have developed a pretty good capacity for such things.
I don't want to suggest to anyone that stressing yourself out is the way to go as I definitely would consider my workload challenging but not overwhelming. The key to it is making sure that the most important things stay that way. There is definitely room for balance, self-reflection, and realizing whether you are just trying to do too much each day. But there is also plenty of room to push yourself if something is important enough to you.