Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

How To Have Sustainable Success

Self Portrait By Jillian Corinne Via Flickr CC

A guest post by Health Coach Catherine Chen, Ph.D.

Do you sometimes fall into this trap?

If I finish this project, then I can relax.

If I get approval from my boss, then I will feel more competent.

If I work on what I want, then I’ll feel like I’m making a difference.

“If-then” thinking is problematic because we don’t actually focus on the present moment. By being concerned with the outcome, we don’t fully mentally engage with what we’re doing or the lessons presented to us. By the time we do achieve the result, we may not feel like we’ve accomplished anything meaningful because the entire journey felt like a blur (life crisis, anyone?).

If we continue to stay in this thought-trap and achieve our desired result, we never feel like we’ve gotten “there” because there is always more to follow. If you finish the project, there’s follow-up work to do, or if you get that promotion or the dream project, unforeseen responsibilities follow, making you wish that you took the time to enjoy what you were doing before. It’s like climbing a mountain quickly to reach the top, only realizing when you get there that there’s more to climb and that you didn’t get a chance to enjoy the views earlier (and now won’t have the energy to do so!). The key is to not bank on a result to make you feel a certain way. Feelings that arise from external accomplishments are fleeting, but attitudes independent of results will sustain you.

How can you relax/feel more confident/make a difference with the role you have right now? You can be as relaxed, confident, or impactful as you want to be, right now. Find friends or family (or a Health Coach!) to support you towards taking actions that give you a sense of mastery and pro-actively support you towards feeling what you desire. For example, engage with people you care about to relax. Offer to help a colleague with your expertise to be valuable.

Release self-induced pressure by taking action towards feeling what you desire right now, rather than making your feelings dependent on an outcome over which you have no control.

Catherine Chen, Ph.D., is a Health Coach who supports high-octane professionals to achieve with ease, have time for what they love, and live a balanced life. Prior to launching her wellness practice, she worked in the management consulting industry and at one of the leading cancer research biotechnology companies. She’d love to hear from you at Or, sign-up to get work-life balance tips at