Episode #161

Operating With the Highest Standards is Exhausting

Are you exhausted? Do you ever feel like you simply cannot do, write, or create one more thing? You aren’t alone! As professors, we operate at 100% nearly all the time in all aspects of life. But here’s the catch: You can’t write from a place of exhaustion. 


In episode 161, you’ll hear Cathy talk all about how operating under the very high standards that you have for yourself is exhausting, and how exhausted people have a hard time writing. She is going to talk about those high standards, how they lead to exhaustion, and therefore how exhaustion undermines writing. When you’re exhausted, your publication pipeline is going to suffer, so we’ll unpack how to operate at a healthy level and maintain that publication pipeline without giving up the rest you desperately need.

The Importance of Rest

You might not consider yourself a ‘creative’ as a professor, but in reality, you create in your work all the time. Even though you might not think of the kind of academic writing that you do as creative writing, you are creating when you are writing, and any act of creation like that requires a commensurate amount of rest. Remember, you can’t write from a place of exhaustion.


Operating at Exceptionally High Levels

If you’re a woman, a person of color, or other minority in the workplace, you know what it feels like to have to work extra hard to prove yourself as an academic. You may feel like you always have to be impeccable, available, and say yes to anything. But, in reality it is not possible for humans to maintain that type of standard.

We have to think about the ways in which we can manage our energy, expectations, and around what parts of our career or what activities that we’re involved in. Certain things do deserve our highest standards of excellence, but some things can be done well without killing yourself.

If you are working from this place where you are always pushing to a high level of excellence (which is probably how you got to where you are right now!) you can now be more deliberate and more intentional about where you demand excellence from yourself.

If we continue to demand this kind of high level of excellence in every single thing that we do, and every aspect of our job, we will just get exhausted.


You Can’t Write Exhausted

If you’re operating from exhaustion, you can’t write well or deliberately, because creation like writing requires a certain amount of rest from you.

We might think we have no motivation, but in reality it might just be utter exhaustion. So you have to look at how you can be less exhausted. Figure out the best way to save your energy for your best work, and give yourself the freedom to do other tasks at a lower energy level.

Consider what is dragging you down and sucking your energy and how you can combat that exhaustion. Ask yourself how you can build in rest in order to have enough brain power to work well.

Letting Some Things Go

One thing we are likely all guilty of is striving to be the best at everything when in reality we should just let some things just be okay. That’s one great way to preserve energy when you’re too exhausted.

Another way to preserve energy is to actually allow yourself time to truly rest in a restorative way. Find out for yourself what actually brings rest for you, and try to build that in every day.

Overall, if you’re operating at the highest standards all the time and you are leading a life of exhaustion, you have to figure out how to put your energy and time behind the things that deserve it. And let the other things that you do be just fine.

“There’s a relationship between any kind of creativity and rest.”


“Maybe what you’re actually doing when you think you’re procrastinating is that your brain is trying to get the rest that you’re not getting.”


We’ve opened the waitlist for our next cohort of Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap®. Check out the program details here and sign up for the waitlist to be notified when applications open:  https://scholarsvoice.org/navigate/


Continue the conversation:

  1. Our 12-week Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap® program helps tenure-track womxn and nonbinary professors with a disruptive perspective on their field to publish their backlog of papers so that their voice can have the impact they know is possible. Get on the waitlist here!
  2. Cathy’s book, Making Time to Write: How to Resist the Patriarchy and Take Control of Your Academic Career Through Writing is available in print! Learn how to build your career around your writing practice while shattering the myths of writing every day, accountability, and motivation, doing mindset work that’s going to reshape your writing, and changing academic culture one womxn and nonbinary professor at a time. Get your print copy today or order it for a friend here!
  3. Want to train with us for free on your campus? Now you can when you recommend our Scholar’s Voice Faculty Retreats to a decision-maker on your campus! Download the brochure with the retreat curriculum and both in-person and online retreat options here.

Read the full transcript.


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