Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ever Feel Overwhelmed?

I'm overwhelmed. I can't catch up with my email, even though most nights I'm still answering them at midnight. Doing my income tax is hanging over my head. So's the play I'm committed to start directing soon. The piles on my desk are growing. My 87-year-old mother could use more of my attention. The optometrist just told me my eyes are aging: "Your tears aren't as high-quality as they were." (And that's not the only part of me that's aging.) I'm so rushed, I eat nothing that requires more cooking than 60 seconds of microwaving. I eat standing up--average mealtime: five minutes. My garage is falling off its foundation and so am I.

While I love Google, email, iPhones and the rest, and I'm grateful for my full career counseling practice, radio shows, and that I get to write for prestigious publications, at times like these, I wonder if I'd be better off in simpler times, in which you work at a moderate pace for 35 hours a week, then sit down for a leisurely dinner cooked by your adoring wife, after which you snuggle together watching I Love Lucy instead of shows designed to manipulate your socio-political views.

My normal rule in writing blog posts and articles is to never raise a problem unless I can propose a solution but this time, I'm making an exception. If you look at my bio and how prolifically I write, you'd think I had it totally together. It may somehow be reassuring to know I don't.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

This too shall pass.

Cornhusker said...

After the play, you need to take a vacation with your adoring wife. Also, monitor the eye situation. By the way, I microwave and eat standing up also.

Anonymous said...

Marty - Thank you for this realistic and above all honest post.

So many tv personalities/bloggers/writers/etc portray an image of perfection in order to impress their audience. At times you can feel like something must be terribly wrong with the way you're handling things when in reality, everyone struggles to juggle their commitments.

If someone as accomplished as you feels overwhelmed, suddenly I don't feel as bad about having the feeling myself.

The choice of what to commit to is yours, good luck finding a setup that works for you.

Maureen Nelson said...

Interesting how you blame "the times" instead of your own commitment to be productive at superhuman levels. You can say "no" any time you want. You say you never experience stress, but this looks/feels/smells like stress. You're just not using that label, therefore self-deceiving. This is cyclic... except you keep raising the stakes -- e.g., doing two radio shows instead of one. There was a caller who was about to go away happy with a career that hit "5" on the meter and you said, "No, let's hold out for something higher." Why do you don't you take your own advice and get rid of the thing that feels "like a job" -- not fun anymore.

I understand your situation, as I, too, am enormously busy and need to guard my time very well. I get so many requests for networking dinners that I could have them every night of the week. I cut them to once a week and now once a month.

Take your foot off the accelerator for a while. You didn't post for 12 days and the world didn't end. You justify long dog walks. Justify cutting back for a while and addressing those things that need to be addressed.

Life likely sends you wonderful, refreshing and fun people and things all the time. Don't always show them the door because they distract you from your self-imposed forced march toward greater productivity. Consider that some of those people/things might reinvigorate you.

Anonymous said...

I so appreciate you sharing this, although I wish you were feeling better. As someone struggling to move out of my own overwhelm and "stuck-ness", your posts & advice are always a beacon amidstthe fog for me, while I regroup to find/create a new career at 52. Thank you for being able to allow us to hear your human-ness. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Please take some time to be good to YOU. Rest if you can. And know that you matter. Nancy

Marty Nemko said...

Thank you, dear Nancy.

F.S. said...

Thanks for sharing. I get the impression you're skeptical of work-life balance efforts, at least as far as they affect productivity. (Please correct me if I'm mis-characterizing your position.) Are you re-thinking your position on this, given your current state?

Marty Nemko said...

No. I believe that spending more time on "balance" would make me feel more overwhelmed, and that I was wasting more of my life. I just need to go slow and steady.

F.S. said...

Interesting that you think of balance as one more thing on your to-do list, rather than a re-alignment of your time and self-expectations. (The latter is how I see it.) Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Forget "balance." The real question is, Are you happy? Is it working for you? Your post doesn't sound happy.

Marty Nemko said...

I do not believe happiness should be the goal of the life well-led. It should be making the biggest difference.

Jacqueline said...

"I do not believe happiness should be the goal of the life well-led. It should be making the biggest difference."

Why do personal happiness and making a difference have to be mutually exclusive? This comment made me laugh as I just saw your post on the supposed over-inflated sense of importance shared by a lot of academics. Your comment makes you sound exactly like those types of academics. Perhaps your approach towards life (which is possibly shared by many men) is one of the reasons why men die earlier than women?

Marty Nemko said...

Jacqueline, the gender put-down is both inappropriate and unfair. Often, personal happiness and achievement are not well correlated. I may be happier watching a movie, having sex, going out to dinner, and playing with my dog, but those will hardly be making as important a difference as my writing, counseling, radio shows, etc.

Jacqueline said...

My point is that achievement and happiness do not have to be mutually exclusive. My work achievements actually make me happier than a lot of leisure activities do. When it gets to the point that work feels overwhelming on a daily basis, however, some changes might benefit your health.

My comment was not intended as a "gender put-down". I was simply proposing an idea to explain why men may die earlier than women. There are most likely many reasons but this may be a contributing factor.

Isn't is possible that men who pressure themselves to relentlessly pursue all of this "achievement" put themselves under a lot of stress which over a number of years can lead to an earlier death? This is simply an idea, not a value judgment.

 

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