Since we were small, we were told to “give it our all”, “give 100%”.  Motivating, maybe. But, the thing is, you can’t give 100%. I can’t give 100%. And believe me, I’ve been trying.

You can't give 100%

100% by Albertogp

My nature is to be a hard worker. I’ve been working for over half my life already. I bought into the “American Dream myth”, that if you just work hard, you will succeed. See my post on that here. But like I said, I’ve been working for over half my life already. And I’m not anywhere near my definition of success.

I think women especially are in danger from this story of giving 100%. We’re told we can, indeed, “have it all”. But only if we can be it all: the perfect employee, wife, mother and friend. We can be all these things! Just give them all 100%! For most of us it is in our nature to be people-pleasers, and so we try so hard. to do everything to the best of all ability, all the time.

Here’s the problem with giving 100%: If you give 100% to everything, you’re actually giving more like 1000%. Work, family, friends, hobbies, whatever. Sure, you think, “I’m not giving them all 100% at the same time, so I can give them 100% separately.” But, can you? Or are work worries in the back of your mind as you are with your family? Do you feel guilty for indulging in your hobbies when you should be doing something “useful”? Do your friends get neglected because of the other business in your life?

Nothing ever really gets 100% anyway. It’s time we were honest about that and stopped trying so damn hard.  Save yourself the burnout.

It’s a pretty little myth that we can 100% to everything. Maybe that works for a bit. But, it’s mathematical impossibility. And therefore, unsustainable. We try so hard to operate at that level, because we’ve been told it’s what we can and should do. Instead, we’re constantly fracturing our energy.

It’s OK to not give 100%. There. I said it. It’s OK to not give 100%. Especially to things or people that don’t give back.

I’m not saying don’t do or be your best. I’m not saying sit at home and eat bonbons, or neglect your children, or don’t meet your deadlines. I am saying, it’s time we lived in the real world. 100% is a myth. Priorities are a good thing. What is important to you?

You only have 100% to give, period. Use it wisely.

Read The Dancer with Cancer Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.