For starters, yes, I am aware that to give 110%(+) is not a literal suggestion. However, if another person tells me I need to give 110% to anything I do, they’re going to have to listen to me give a verbal version of this rant, and that’s their fault, not mine.
At one point this year, I worked (briefly) with a client who asked me to give 110% to the work I completed for them. At first, I took it at its non-literal meaning: put in the effort, and maybe you’ll get a cool bonus for a job well done. Awesome. Except not awesome, because my client actually expected me to give more time and effort than I was capable of. Not because I was not willing to do the work, but because after six mornings in a row of waking up to 20 unread messages (you think I’m exaggerating …), I had to say no. No, I cannot give more than 100%. Because if I am to give 110%, I have to take time away from other things. And that is not something someone should have to do for even a paying job.
The second you start giving 110% to something, you give 10% less to something else. Because you are a human. You cannot give more than 100% to all the things in your life. Life, productivity, accomplishing things, surviving, it’s all about balance.
Sometimes you will not be able to give 100% to anything, because there are too many things, most of which are not in your control. Does that make you lazy? Apathetic? Inconsiderate? No. It makes you a person.
If there is anything the creatives of the universe need to hear right now, it is that they are people. Not superhumans. Not overachieving masterminds. People. You can be good at what you do and still need to take a break. You can have enough enthusiasm for your entire department and still need to go home and not think about work for 12 straight hours.
Giving 100% means you know your limits. You know exactly what needs to get done, you put in all the effort to get it done, and then you go home. You rest. You enjoy the rest of your day. Because life is not about just your job, or just your family, or just your personal projects. It is about everything. Everything demands 100% effort. And even 100% effort does not always seem possible.
100% is enough, because it means you’re giving it all you can give. No one should ever expect you to give up more than you are capable of. I love my job as an editor. But when I’ve worked all my hours for the week, I stop working. I have to move on to something else. Not because I wouldn’t love to give more time to a job I love – but because it is not my only job. I have a dozen other responsibilities crying for my attention. I have learned to prioritize. To put in the effort, and then stop when it’s time to stop. You must learn that, too. You must learn that giving 100% will get you everywhere you need to be. Burning yourself out, because you think it will get you ahead – it’s not worth it. Trust me. You’re going to crumble. And it’s going to hurt. And you’re going to have to learn the hard way not to push yourself so dang hard.
Give 100%. To your writing; your loved ones; to yourself. Just enough to get you where you deserve to be, but not enough to leave you off balance, exhausted and regretting all your destructive life choices. Okay? Yes. You’re going to be okay.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.