At some point in the 1990s, my husband convinced me to enroll in the Dale Carnegie Training Course that he had taken some years before. "It will boost your confidence," he said, though I suspect he also knew the 12-week training would benefit me in other ways as well.

For those of you who don't know, this is a course where each week you learn a concept on which you must speak for 2-3 minutes in front of the class the following week. You also learn other skills like how to start a conversation, how to remember names, and other means in which to engage in friendly conversation. While usually business-minded individuals sign up for the training, the learned skills also benefit its trainees in daily and family life as well.

I got lucky by having a trainer who had actually met Dale Carnegie (he died in 1955). Bill Dyke came from the generation where a handshake and knowing someone by name meant something. Bill had a friendly smile and a warm demeanor, but always kept a firm hand on our learning. He would take time during breaks to connect with each of us and to make sure we were staying on track.Overwhelm DP 150854714 sm

One of our lessons focused on finally completing a hold-over project we'd allowed to stall and not finish. I remember one participant had done some home remodeling but after ten years, still hadn't replaced the baseboards and molding. (He did during the training.)

MY incomplete nemesis at the time happened to be the first incarnation of my book. I'd struggled to finish it, starting over and over many times and often setting it aside for months at a time when the words just wouldn't come. Bill cornered me during a break and asked, "Could you give just 10% more?" I thought for a moment and replied, "No. I'm already giving 110%, and I don't have anymore to give." I explained how I felt I already had too much on my plate and teetered at the precipice of overwhelm as it was. My mind just couldn't perceive giving any more.

So there.

In reality, this feeling of overwhelm and over-giving lived only my perception. How does one truly measure the percentage given of oneself and ones time? Could I have gotten up an hour earlier? Probably. Could I have stayed up an hour later? Maybe. I just couldn't see how I could manage it at that time in my life. My giving of myself have come to the end of its rope. Between housewifing, volunteering for several organizations, homeschooling my sons, and working part time. . . (and, oh, yeah, this course), I'd already given whatever free time I might have had left. So unlike the finally completed woodwork, I didn't finish my book that week (or even that year).

I know what you're thinking. . . now she's going to tell me how to find and give that extra 10%...

Actually, I'm not. Here's why.

First of all, for anyone to find more time, they must first give up something else. Heading up a big event, my co-volunteer and I sat in the floor eating carry-out the night before. We started talking about the lack of free time. I suggested she let go of what no longer served her. She asked the poignant question, "Which ones? They are all worthy?" So, I asked her, "Which ones are taking you in the direction you want to go? Which ones are going to propel you toward the future you want to have?" She didn't say much after that. We still had a lot of preparation for the day ahead.

Not long after the event, she retired from the organization and went on to pursue adventures more in alignment with who she wanted to become. I also ended up backing away from that organization and several others. Change had begun.

Sometimes it’s more important to find some peace and joy in your daily life. There are times when it is absolutely vital to offer yourself some self care or do something fun. Tapping into your creative and intuitive side can also revive your soul and give you the wisdom and understanding you need to overcome your life’s barriers and challenges and move you forward toward your so-called "happy place." 

If I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that there is “now” and “not now.” “Not now” doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t do a thing. It simply means that waiting awhile might give you the needed breathing space and understanding to do it properly. That waiting period gives the universe time to bring the right people forward who can help you along the way with financial or physical resources you might need. There are times when pushing that extra 10% can actually push you over the edge, leading to overwhelm, anxiety, and even illness.Bliss DP 665824694 sm

Is pushing that extra 10% worth it at times? Absolutely. It is perhaps what pushes an elite athlete to win. There are times when giving just a little more is all that is needed to go the extra mile. But other times, we need to take a step back and chill.

How do you know the difference? When to push, when to rest?

Try both.

Which one empowers you the most right now? Which one brings you joy? And here's the best part. . . you're not locked into either one. You can do a little of both.

Where are you at? Do you need to give 10% more to finally complete that next step in your life? Or do you need to back up and breathe (just for a little while) so you can do that thing really well?