We all have limits. They're far higher and further than most people think. They can be pushed and developed with time. But we have limits. The person who truly pushes themselves in fitness, business, career, or anything else will eventually run into the wall, and see they need more training.
Most people do not need to worry much about their limits in the short-term; they're nowhere near them. Learn the basic safety and protocol for what you're doing, and then just go do it. Most people get nowhere near their limits.
But, if you're a Type-A type who wants to push yourself, recognizing and working with your limits is incredibly important. If you're really exhausted, dialing back your activity to something reasonable can be better than going to breaking point.
There's no shame at all in cycling off a weight training program in favor of a low-key week of stretching and recovery. Taking a few days off to sleep enough, plan, and meditate is good. No matter how hardcore you are, eventually you might need to cancel a few scheduled appointments in order to recover and keep your edge over the long haul.
These are all smart and necessary. In the long term, it means building rejuvenation in and getting an intuitive grasp of when you're about to run face-first into the wall. Sometimes you want to do that -- it's good to learn where the limits are -- but stopping yourself from getting burnt-out, injured, or stuck on the hamster wheel is key.
There's advantage here in the short-term decisionmaking, as well. If you know you're going to be ineffective at some high stakes creative work because you're already running in the red, it can make immense sense to rest, or catch up on phonecalls to family and friends you haven't spoken with, or do some research related to one of your hobbies, or do some travel-planning.
These are all activities you want to be doing anyways, so knocking them out in a way that's a recovery break from an intense push on the limits can be incredibly valuable.
Do keep pushing those limits. It's statistically very likely you're not pushing yourself as hard as you could be in any area of your life. But keep in mind, if you keep pushing, you will hit limits. Build intermediate breaks and rejuvenation, and take the pragmatic and restful short-term course of action when it's called for.
This article made me think - Where do my limits come from? Perhaps some are from old beliefs that no longer serve me. For example "don't talk to strangers" that I heard as a child was one of the beliefs that created a limit in how much selling to strangers I would do... So pushing through limits is good, clearing old beliefs and pushing through limits is great!
I am a great fan of rest, play and recovery. I think it not only recharges me to work hard again, it also helps to integrate any growth that I have made in my last sprint.
Have you ever had an incredibly amazing day or week, with huge breakthroughs… and then thought it would be permanent, when it wasn't?
I've spent immense time investigating this phenomenon. It's as aggravating as anything else imaginable. You're flying along, doing incredibly well, it seems like you've turned up to a higher level of production, productivity, creativity, teamwork, whatever -- only to sink back down, and sometimes worse than before for a while.
What causes this?
Well, there's old fashioned complacency or overconfidence -- which is why Tokugawa Ieyasu made his famous quote that, "after victory, tighten the straps on your helmet."
Believe it or not, there IS a secret to recovering from overtraining and injury that will get you back on track the fastest possible, although you probably won't like it. I'll get to that in a sec.
First of all, some background. Legendary olympic lifting coach Mike Burgener of Crossfit fame had this to say on the subject of overtraining:
"There is no such thing as over-training. However, there IS such a thing as under-recovery."
If there's anything I have learned from the last few months, its that this statement is absolutely true and powerful for more reasons than may be immediately obvious.
Rewind three months. I started John Romaniello's Engineering the Alpha program with total determination and rigid discipline. I did every single workout. I ate as prescribed, down to the calorie.