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Are you doing too much or too little? How to know the difference.

tea bagSometimes it gets confusing when striving for a “balanced life.” Whether it’s eating in moderation or going with the flow, we start to make progress, then suddenly we are taking a few steps back. In either case, we desire to be somewhere else than where we actually are.
When we get stuck in one place for too long, we start to second guess our efforts. “Am I doing this right?” “Maybe I’m doing too much X, or not enough Y?” If we want to break through a weight loss plateau, we usually step on the gas, but what if the brake would be the better choice? Same goes for motivating ourselves out of inertia. Should we be pushing harder or would taking a break be more effective?

The image in the post is from a tea tag that I’ve saved for 20 years. It’s a little hard to read but says “Happiness is a way station between too little and too much.” I love the subtle reminder that even though we get frustrated with being stuck in the middle, it’s usually where we are happiest. Perhaps this is why we find it difficult to break plateaus, start new habits and begin big projects. But despite where happiness may lay, we desire to escape the middle ground at some point. How do you know which side you need to lean towards to create momentum to do this?

You need to do less if…

  • You wake up exhausted on a regular basis, and often don’t have enough energy to get through the day without lots of sugar or caffeine (physically drained)
  • You can’t remember what you ate for dinner this week, you lose your keys or other important items frequently, or honestly have no idea where all the time goes in a day (lack of mindfulness)
  • You wake up in the middle of the night with your mind going 100 MPH, or can’t fall asleep easily because of this (unmanaged anxiety)
  • You can’t remember the last time you had a belly laugh or made time to do something just for fun (unhappy)
  • You take on so many responsibilities, duties, projects and plans that you have no “me time”  (neglecting self care)
  • You’re feeling drained

You need to do more if…

  • You’ve been taking it easy for awhile and things are quite comfortable. So comfortable in fact, that you’ve worn your pajamas to the grocery store (lack of structure)
  • You keep procrastinating even small projects like cleaning out the car or taking that new class you’ve been curious about (procrastination)
  • You’re nervous about mixing things up. Don’t let fear stop you from a breakthrough (fear)
  • Your routine is too predictable. Broccoli, sweet potato and chicken for dinner again? (boredom)
  • You’ve not changed your workout in quite some time. You’ve been using the same weights, same resistance, same minutes or same running route for the past several weeks (habituated)
  • You’re feeling bored

Make an honest assessment

If you’ve been feeling stuck, can you tell if it’s because you’ve been burning your candle at both ends and you have nothing left to give? It seems counter-intuitive to “do less” as a remedy out of this situation, but “life balance” wins. Giving your physical body, mind and spirit a retreat is energizing and allows for new inspiration and motivation to emerge.

In the other camp, you may be needing a push if you’ve been cozy for too long. Staying with the status quo, or getting too comfortable isn’t a bad place to be, but if your desire is to move beyond where you’re at then mixing some new energy into the pot is likely your remedy.

What’s been your experience with getting “unstuck?”

Did you have to step on the gas or the brake?



4 Comments on Are you doing too much or too little? How to know the difference.

  1. Nancy Smedberg
    October 13, 2014 at 5:33 pm (3 years ago)

    Amy- this must have been written just for me!! Plateaus and I have become best friends!! Trying to mix it up and at the same time give my overworked shins a rest! Also trying lots of different foods! It is a challenge, but so worth it! Thanks for the confirmation.

      October 15, 2014 at 10:49 am (3 years ago)

      Sometimes a plateau is the frustrating part of the process. Making friends with them though- I like that approach!

  2. Lily
    October 15, 2014 at 12:52 pm (3 years ago)

    I love these examples, Amy. I find a lot of people live in the extremes instead of finding a happy medium. Mixing up our workouts, keeping our food varied, and balancing work and self-care is so often overlooked! I think we can all benefit from a regular “check in”.

      October 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm (3 years ago)

      It’s called “happy medium” for a reason, right? It’s hard to overcome black and white thinking and “good/bad” behavior mentality but I challenge everyone to catch themselves doing it!


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