How to Know if You’re Pushing Too Hard

I was supposed to go hiking today.

At the end of June when I was recovering from my miscarriage surgery, I laid out an ambitious plan to peak-bag the 48 White Mountain peaks over 4,000-feet in the next 4 months, and backpack a 120-mile section of the Appalachian Trail in New York this fall. ⛰

(I’ve already hiked these 48 peaks in all four seasons, but this round is for my new dog Laney to get her 4,000-footer patch!)


I guess I felt like I needed to reclaim my body, feel strong again, spend time in the woods to clear my head, and get physically and mentally healthy before embarking on more fertility treatments this fall.

I scheduled - down to the day - which peaks I needed to climb in which months, because I’m also working on completing the White Mountain Grid - hiking all 48 peaks in all 12 calendar months of the year.

And today I was supposed to hike Mt. Carrigain.

The weather is great today - cool, overcast, no rain or thunderstorms.

I worked hard yesterday to finish a chapter I’m contributing to the forthcoming book Quiet & Badass so that I could take today off (I’ll be sharing more about that project soon!). 📕

But when I woke up this morning, I was dreading the idea of hiking 10 miles.

I’ve been tired all week, and I’m still achy and sore from my big backpacking trip 2 weeks ago. I think I flared up some tendinitis in my knees and Achilles from pushing 55 miles with a 40-pound pack for the first time in 2 years (oops).

I needed a day off, and slogging 10 miles up and down a rocky, rooty trail didn’t feel like down time. Setting peak-bagging goals helps motivate me to get out, but it often feels like another job.

So I lay in bed and faced the uncomfortable question:

What do I really want?

Should I suck it up and pack my backpack and start walking, in the hopes that I’ll get energized on the trail and be glad I did it? (Sometimes this happens. Sometimes it doesn’t.)

Or should I listen to my body and give myself a break, even if it means I’ll screw up my hiking schedule and might not finish my goal this fall? (Enter: all kinds of self-critical voices!)

I face this dilemma more often than I’d like to admit, because I overschedule and overcommit myself to a bunch of cool things and then they all start to feel like obligations that leave me screaming for a break.

In fact, part of the story I’m telling in Quiet & Badass is about the time when my crazed pursuit of a hiking goal made me suicidal - stay tuned if you’re curious about that one.

So I had to ask myself this morning, with all of the coaching and mindset tools at my disposal, how do I know if I’m pushing too hard?

I considered the parts-work perspective: I’m experiencing a polarization between the manager part of me that pushes me to achieve at all costs, versus the firefighter part of me that wants to curl up and do nothing.

The shitty thing about this polarization is that even if the “curl up and chill” part wins, I don’t get to enjoy my chilling because the pushy manager part is in my head all day long saying I “should” be doing the hike and telling me I’m a failure, I’m not tough enough, I’m not determined enough, etc.

Can you relate?

Well, I’m here to call bullshit on that right now!


👉 Because I don’t have to achieve to be enough.

👉 Because I don’t have to finish a goal for it to be worth pursuing.

👉 Because I want to listen to my body and take care of it.

👉 Because I need to be able to take a break and ENJOY relaxing so that I can replenish the energy and motivation to ENJOY my next hike.

👉 Because life is too short to make myself miserable.

The irony is that just yesterday I was coaching a client on this same topic. She came to me feeling overwhelmed with her to-do list, and what became clear to me was that it wasn’t necessarily the list of tasks that was making her feel bad, but the endless critical voices in her head telling her she wasn’t doing enough, she wasn’t doing it right, and she was failing at life.

We explored a new, empowering perspective: that she’s exactly where she’s meant to be, doing exactly what she’s meant to be doing. She’s moving towards her dreams, and her success is inevitable.

Imagine what becomes possible when she tackles the same to-do list with this expansive energy, focusing on what matters, taking care of her mind and body, celebrating what she’s working on and trusting that the rest will happen in time?

My clients are always my greatest teachers. They hold the mirror up to me. Coaching them through their challenges always seems to provide insights that are helpful in my own life.

So what do I want today?

✏️ I want to hang out in my PJs and write (check!).

🐶 Maybe go for a nice easy walk in the woods with the dogs.

🏕 Then when my hubby gets home, I’m eager to pack up and spend the weekend chillin’ in our 1991 Winnebago (our Winnie is currently enjoying her retirement in the driveway at my in-law’s lakeside cottage!)

🌅 I want to float on my tube. Paddle my kayak and paddleboard. Take a sunset cruise on the pontoon boat. Have a moonlit outdoor shower. Sit on the dock and watch the Perseid meteor shower.

Just thinking about that makes my whole body relax!

And that’s the best way to find out if you’re pushing too hard:

When you contemplate your next commitment, what’s your energy? How does it feel in your body?

If it makes you feel tired and dreadful and like you don’t wanna get out of bed, it might be worth reconsidering.

Then ask yourself: What do I want instead?

I would love it if you’d drop a comment or send me a message and let me know.

Talk soon,


p.s. I’ve closed enrollment for the Badass Business Bootcamp while I take the next 2 months off to focus on travel, adventures, and my book launch… I’m not sure when the Bootcamp will reopen, because I’ve got a new mindset coaching offer that’s been percolating for a while now… so stay tuned! ;)