Partly because we love our work, and partly because we think we are that damned important, we routinely persevere beyond our limits with a plan to catch up during the weekend, while on vacation, on retirement, or even after death. Yet we also know that borrowing from tomorrow’s capacity isn’t ultimately sustainable.
Think you’re able to routinely persevere beyond your limits? Consider how frequently you crash into exhausted illness, snap in frustration at innocent bystanders, hurt yourself in an inattentive accident, or walk dimly lit through your days.
Taoism’s yin and yang symbol illustrates the extremes to avoid. In her translation of the Tao Te Ching, Ellen Chen says: “Knowing contentment one does not suffer disgrace, knowing when to stop one does not become exhausted. This way one may last long.”
In support of this Taoist perspective, Eastern healers advise that we not go past each day’s physical and emotional limits. When in doubt about your day’s capacity, err on the skimpy side, and stop short.