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3 ways to achieve career goals without hitting a breaking point

If you are an executive, owner of a small business, teacher, young professional…if you are a living breathing human, it is important to remind yourself that you can do hard things and achieve your goals. It’s okay to get a little uncomfortable. But remember, discomfort doesn’t mean pain.

Outside of working at Audienz, I practice and teach Barre3, a full-body workout combining strength conditioning, cardio, and mindfulness, where I often say or am told: you can do hard things and achieve your goals. I encourage myself and others to get uncomfortable – go one inch deeper, move bigger, take up more space – but to always work above pain. In a professional world, that translates to working above your breaking point. However, if you hit that breaking point you need to modify your approach.

There are three modifications that can help individuals do hard things and achieve goals while still working above their breaking point: take a break, downsize, and set boundaries. Here are three real-life examples of people who learned to achieve career goals and work above the pain.

A coffee shop owner in the 2008 recession

It is not easy to open a small store in a big city. Space, product, and employee pay are expensive. A local business owner opened a coffee shop and worked, worked, worked. The owner worked so hard to make sure his back would not be against the wall, he eventually burnt out. Tired and stressed, he knew he had to modify something. He finally came to a fork in the road: take a break and trust his employees to hold down the fort or become frustrated and slip into a negative headspace. He took a break and went on a vacation. The shop was still standing after he returned. He was recharged and ready to jump back in. He’s had the business for over 10 years and now takes vacations before he burns out.

  • Key takeaway: Taking breaks is a sign of strength. Trust in yourself and those you have put around yourself.

A VP who wants to have it all

I knew a VP who had kids, a pressure-cooker job, a significant other with a similar position, and two homes. This person did not know himself or his kids. He was mentally and physically deteriorating. This reality was no longer working. He had to reevaluate what was important. The VP downsized. They sold one of the houses and put their kids in good local schools closer to home. Eventually, he left his job, for another high-pressure job, but one with more attainable expectations for his situation.

  • Key takeaway: Downsizing is a way of re-organizing and re-prioritizing. It does not mean you are “giving up.”

A traveling parent (aka me!)

Nine months after becoming a parent, my job took a new direction, and I started to travel internationally about every six weeks. At times I was grumpy and often tired and overwhelmed. I eventually hit my breaking point. Although it was messy, I learned a big lesson—I needed to set boundaries. Even though I was nervous, I talked to my boss and put realistic work expectations on the table. The discussion was not without some awkward moments; however, we did agree on a more balanced schedule. I still traveled but had longer increments at home.

  • Key takeaway: Setting boundaries is confidence. What good boss and company do not want confident employees?

As these stories highlight, you need to modify your approach to work above the breaking point. You can do hard things, but those hard things should not break you.

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