Respecting Limits

Hello, fellow lifelong learners! This week quarter I learned a thing or two about my limits; where they are, and how far I can push them. Turns out, not as far as I could when I was a teenager. Who knew?

Ambition vs Sense

I’ve lived with chronic illness for most of my life, and you’d think that by now I would now what I can and can’t do. And that might be true if not for two things: the way my illness fluctuates, and my irrepressible optimism.

The fluctuations mean that I can’t predict my pain and/or energy levels ahead of time. The smart thing to do in response to this would be to assume the worst, and plan like a pessimist. That’s where thing two comes in. It takes a lot to dampen my optimism and ambition, so my programming tends to look something like this:

  • 10 Make a new plan, one that will really work this time!
  • 20 Peak activity
  • 30 Struggle
  • 40 Crash
  • 50 Recovery
  • 60 Go to 10

I need to get better at playing the spoons.


If you’re not familiar with the Spoon Theory, then I encourage you to go and take a read. Go on, I’ll still be here when you get back.

Good, isn’t it? What I tend to forget is that it’s not just physical things that cost ‘spoons’. There’s also mental and emotional energy, which means that a networking event can be exhausting! As well as physically attending, I need to be alert and make conversation.

Don’t get me wrong – I like networking. It’s fun, and I get to meet loads of interesting people. But it is exhausting, and I don’t give that fact enough weight when I’m planning my day. I’d like to say ‘lesson learned’, but I suspect it’s more a question of ‘lesson taught’. It will take a few more crashes before I really learn how to colour within the lines, but at least I know how to make sure I bear the fallout, and not my clients (mostly). And, after twenty years of this, I’m good at cycling through the ‘fail’ stage quickly, and stretching the ‘activity’ stage to maximum.

So, in conclusion, I’ve learned not to push myself too hard for too long. I’ve also learned that limits are to be respected, not feared. Pushing at them is fine; smashing into them at 90 miles an hour is not.