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Becky Robinson

Here's another sign you should make a change, Steve:
The stress of your current job or situation is making you physically sick. My husband knew he needed to try a new career when he was diagnosed with stress related headaches that no medicine would help. A good friend of mine was recently diagnosed with panic attacks after months of knowing that her schedule is out of control.

Mary Jo Asmus

Great thought provoker, Steve!

Here's one I deal with a lot in my clients (and myself!: We need to make a change when we are STRIVING. This is when we keep trying, pushing, and spinning our wheels. And nothing new or different is happening. Its kind of like holding on, but tighter and pushing that heavy cart uphill. Often, we don't recognize we are pusing so hard until someone tells us or we see a new (and often easier) way to accomplish our objectives.

Steve Roesler


Indeed, that's a severe sign, yet one whose cause isn't often obvious at the outset.

Readers, take heed: this happens more often than one might expect.

Steve Roesler

Mary Jo,

Wow, that's dead on. I hadn't thought of it as "striving" but experience it in myself as well. When I'm working too hard for too long with no result, it's a sign that I'm in the wrong ballpark. I've often wondered why it's tough to recognize that a little earlier. Maybe it's the infatuation with goal vs. the genuine fit?

peter vajda

I think it's important to discern the difference between striving and struggling. The psycho/emotional/spiritual energy is different between the two. Struggling is the Sisyphean-type efforting that results in dis-ease, disequilibrium and disharmony. Striving takes effort on many levels but is an energy that is positive, purpose-driven, etc., even though it's demanding and exacting. There's a huge difference here and is well worth examining and putting into perspective, and a greater life context, before one opts out.

Steve Roesler

Peter, that's a useful distinction and one that I believe people will "get" right away.

Mary Jo Asmus

I was quite purposeful in my use of the word "strive", since it has an additional meaning that isn't necessarily positive. Although I agree that to "struggle" is a level above striving in terms of difficulty, I think many or most people will recognize when they are struggling. They may not recognize the subtlety of "striving", which Steve described aptly as intended (working for too long, too hard, without a result), and I described as pushing uphill.

Its a fine distinction, I know. But striving isn't always positive, can be just under the line of truly struggling, and is often unrecognizable to the person who is striving. In fact, a dictionary definition includes "to fight against resistance", and the word is related to "strife", with its origin in the word "quarrel".

John Sellards

I daresay the reason that people don't realize they are "working too hard for too long with no result" is that fundamentally we all have to prove to ourselves that we are able to achieve something, and often will hammer away at things endlessly for that reason...maybe not infatuation with the goal, but obsession with showing ourselves that we know what the goal is and might just be able score it. I suspect it's human nature that everybody does on some level for mental stimulation more than any other reason, and some people are just more prone to it than others. And does some strife not just happen from the friction of doing the same things over and again?

Joan Schramm

Re: striving. Steve, you said "...working too hard for too long with no result..." and that's a perfect example of when to quit. Or, at least, step back and see what's in the way. Maybe you need to take a different path. Maybe you need to set a different goal. Maybe your goal is huge and you need to add in some stepping-stones to get there. Maybe it wasn't your goal in the first place and you need to figure out why you took on something that you didn't really want.

Whatever it is, I'd say if you're working hard (in a bad way) and not getting anywhere -- "striving" yet not succeeding -- you need to stop. When I find myself pushing uphill and not getting any closer to the top, it's a sign that I'm not in alignment with whatever I'm trying to do. Working hard on the right things feels good -- I'm pleasantly exhausted, proud, and ready to tackle the next big thing. Working hard on the wrong things is just hard work with no reward at the end.

Steve Roesler

Well, John, I've re-read the comment twice and am struck by thought of "obsession" vs. "infatuation. I think you are onto something.

Both words remind me of a teen-aged, adolescent "love" affair vs. something more mature and settled.

Perhaps that need for achievement shows itself for what it is when we feel our wheels spinning over and over again: an exhausting series of steppingstones on the way to something more purposeful.

Steve Roesler

Well, Joan, our collective genius has surfaced again. I responded to John's comment before seeing yours; even used the term "steppingstone".

Time to form a partnership. . .


I think this is where coaching is SO helpful. In my book, The Leap, I write about the Now Trap - how are brain plays tricks on us that lead us to defend our current state over a better future. The advice of a trusted advisor, who can see things that you won't allow yourself to see, is critical. We all have blinders on. Fulfillment requires that we let others help us steer.

Rick Smith
The Leap

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