Americans love setting goals. And like any ambitious, high achiever, we set goals and then work hard, saying yes to doing whatever it will take to achieve.

But then something happens during the process and suddenly what once felt great and provided results, has now proven that you will have to work a lot harder if you plan on achieving said goal.

And so, we push ourselves. We put on our bravest face, go all-out, and while that Superwoman cape blows in the breeze behind us, we’re sacrificing our self-care.

We push ourselves to keep grinding, and put the things that nourish and replenish us on the back burner. We quickly give up that hour-a-day of exercise we were committed to, and glue ourselves to our computer screens. Our eating goes to shit, and sugar and caffeine rule the day.

Our social life has been hijacked by work because one can’t relax, enjoy, and be present until the work is done. And, as a result, the goal we originally set out to achieve that is supposed to create more happiness ends up bringing on more stress.

The challenge is that most people don’t realize when they are pushing themselves too hard until they’ve gotten to a pretty bad place and turned into an unhappy and unhealthy version of themselves.

The first step in transforming self-induced pressure to a more supportive, sustainable way of living is awareness and knowing the signs for when we are pushing ourselves too hard.

If you find yourself having low energy, you’re cranky all the time, you sleep with your electronic device, and you constantly cancel plans because you’re too busy, then you are pushing yourself too hard. Living this way is not normal – it is unsustainable and unhealthy.

Sure, while there may be moments one will need to dig deep, find their grit, and push to the finish line, pushing and working extra hard should be the exception instead of the norm.

What most of us don’t know is that pushing isn’t our only choice. There is a second option. When the pressure starts pouring on, instead of pushing, we can choose to pause. We can release the Superwoman cape, refuse to live by the unsustainable, rat race pace, and pause just long enough to check in with our inner wisdom to find a different, more sustainable and supportive way to operate. One where we can take care of ourselves and take care of what is most important.

When we find ourselves at the choice point, where we feel the pressure to do, be and have it all, instead of sucking it up and pushing through, and driving ourselves like workhorses, we need to stop, pause, breathe and say no to sacrificing our happiness and health.

There will always be more to do, achieve and take care of. We have to be willing to say “Enough! I’ve done enough today. No more.” Then instead of feeling guilty, we should feel good that we’ve made a choice for our own self-sustainability.

Hear from my pal, and Go from Stressed to Strong contributor, Bill Nye The Science Guy on set of his television show as he gives us some advice on not pushing too hard.

Tips for Putting out the Flames of Self-Induced Stress:

For times when you feel pressured and are tempted to push hard, instead pause, and check in with your inner wisdom, and just do enough. I use this myself and it’s worked wonder to reform those inner slave-driving, inner mean girls, and inner mean dudes.
Step #1: Reflect: Admit you are pushing yourself too hard. Get honest with yourself and say out loud, “I am pushing myself too hard to… “(Saying the words out loud eliminates the pressure and creates space for new insight.)
Step #2. Re-assess: Reconfigure your expectations. Close your eyes, take a breath and put your hand on your heart. Ask your inner wisdom, “What would enough look like?”
Step #3. Realign: Give yourself permission to just do enough. Take whatever actions you need to release the excess and embrace just doing enough. No more. No less. “I choose to… and that is enough.”

So, remember this question the next time you are faced with a choice. Q: Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution towards my goal?

You see it’s not just enough to determine which activities and efforts don’t make the highest possible contribution; you still have to actively eliminate all those that do not.

Once you’ve figured out which activities and efforts to keep – the ones that truly make your highest level of contribution – you need a system to make executing your intentions as effortless as possible.

In my program, Ready | Set | Strong I provide you with a process that makes getting the essential things done as effortless as possible.

Many capable people prevent themselves from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important. But, I want to help you develop a way to tell the difference between what is truly important and everything else.

Check out my brand-new program TODAY and let’s get started tackling your intentions.