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Is Success Wearing You Out?

Carol's  company was doing well.

But Carol was not.

My client "Carol" started the company 20 years ago with a passion for the products she sold and a desire to contribute to the world. Hard work and long hours had brought success, with revenues well into the millions and rising every year.

But for the last several years, Carol had been working so hard that running her company had stopped being fun.

She was living with too much stress and exhaustion to be enjoying herself.

After work she had just enough energy to fix a quick dinner and zone out in front of the TV before bed. Weekends were spent playing catch-up. She lacked the time or energy for much of a social life, even though she sometimes felt lonely and wished she could nurture more consistent friendships.

When Carol did do something fun on the weekend, it never fully rejuvenated her. She still started work on Monday morning almost as depleted as she had been at the end the day on Friday.

Carol carried a level of exhaustion that nothing seemed to touch.

She had gotten used to ignoring her fatigue and soldiering through, but even that was getting harder to do. She struggled with headaches and other ailments.

Fears that her stress and fatigue might create a major health crisis came up often.

She had watched some of her friends and colleagues cope with cancer or heart issues, and she was afraid that if she kept up her pace she was going to be next. But....

She didn't know how to slow down or ease up.
And she thought that if she did, her company would suffer.

Her belief that only she  could do most of the things she was doing for her company, plus the weight of responsibility she felt toward her company and employees, drove her to keep going. She could see no solution.

One day in Carol's coaching session I made a suggestion that shocked her:

"Ease and well-being are important goals for a CEO.
They need to be at the top of your priority list."

I almost heard her gasp.

"Why, that would be irresponsible, indulgent, selfish," she answered. "I already feel so guilty when I take an extra day off that I can't even relax and enjoy it. I feel like I should be doing something productive instead."

As we talked about it her tone shifted....

"Do I even deserve more free time?" she wondered out loud.
"Am I worthy of well-being?"

Bingo! She had hit upon the crux of her dilemma. It was about deserving and worthiness.

Like many women Carol had been brought up to put everyone else's needs above her own. That's the opposite of feeling deserving and worthy. That's "last on the list." That convinces us that our needs are unimportant -- and that we're almost  supposed  to be over-extended and exhausted.

Being "last on the list" is a recipe for depletion, depression and disaster. 

As Carol and I continued working together, ease and well-being made their way up her priority list. It wasn't a straight line. Sometimes fears and beliefs surfaced that would have stopped her if she hadn't had someone to guide her.

And what about her fear that if she made her own ease and well-being a top priority, her company would suffer? That her only two options were "run myself into the ground" or "neglect my company"?

To her surprise and relief....

Carol found that having more ease and well-being made her a better CEO.

She made better decisions, her employees got a happier boss, and profits went up.

Carol's dilemma is common among exceptional and high-achieving women.

Chances are that you relate to some of her story.

I invite you to do three things:
1.  Be honest with yourself about the  stress and exhaustion in your life.
2.  Listen to your fears that your stress and fatigue could create health problems.
3.  Reach out and get an expert's help to put ease and well-being at the top of your priority list.

I suggest an expert's help because you are a very competent woman. If something needs doing, you are on it and it gets done.  So...

If you knew how to design your life around your own ease and well-being, you would have done it by now!

As with Carol, an expert can guide you through the resistance, fears and the pull of your old patterns. It's the best way to get the deepest, fastest, most rewarding change.

If this resonates with you, I invite you to contact me to talk about a coaching program that will take you where you need to go.

It will be worth it.

Supporting your success and well-being,


  1. Gina Hiatt

    This definitely hits home, Martia. I’ve got so much (exciting) stuff going on that the only thing that makes me stop is my boyfriend coming home — and sometimes not even that! There are always the competing problems: I need more staff and I don’t have enough money to hire them yet. Therefore I do too much. It’s an endless circle.

    • Martia Nelson

      You speak for so many women, Gina. It can seem like a whirlwind running on its own power. Finding small ways of prioritizing well-being starts to settle the storm. I’ll be addressing some ways to do that in future articles.

  2. Christine Alejandro

    This is a great article! So many of my clients, both men and
    Women live this story! Adrenal fatigue coupled with
    Other hormonal imbalances make it impossible to
    Get rejuvenated even when they rest. It takes a mind shift that the
    Kind of lifestyle that got you there is an exercise in self-hate. Seeing
    That and deciding to choose self love over everything else makes it easier to make the lifestyle and dietary changes needed to find your optimal health. Then you have the clarity, energy, wisdom and health to be a super leader!

  3. Martia Nelson

    Christine, Well put. And I love that you brought in self-love. That is the antidote. With self-love, we can’t help but treat ourselves well.

  4. Brenda

    Very timely article….the piece that grabbed me the most was the statement:

    Being “last on the list” is a recipe for depletion, depression and disaster.

    It’s so easy to think that if I just work a little harder things will get better, when in reality, I probably need to take some time out for things to get better.

    • Martia Nelson

      Brenda, you hit the nail on the head! It is sooooo easy to think working harder or doing more will make things better. Sometimes we do need to give ourselves a “time out.” 🙂

  5. Maribel Jimenez

    Great article Martia, as I find this dilemna so common for businesswomen. I sure fell in to this trap early in my business and learned after a breakdown how important it is to take care of myself…it keeps me inspired to serve when I am overflowing. A great reminder to have, thanks again!

    • Martia Nelson

      Maribel, you had a profound experience. I bet you’ll never forget the lesson. In 1984 my life was about work until I realized I was about to hit a wall; then I made change that has served me ever since. I like your phrase “serve when I’m overflowing.” That’s a good mantra for women these days.


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