When to stop: knowing our limits

Limits. Anybody else measure their limits completely and utterly wrong sometimes? Maybe this will help in deciding whether it’s worth one more hour, or whether it’s time for a break.

Doing too much 

This is probably what we most associate with the phrase “I don’t know my limits”. I know I definitely suffer from an invincibility complex. With age, and time, and experience, I’m way better. But even now after a snapped ankle and a stark reminder, I’m still testing my limits a little (a little too much?) I don’t know. Do you find you push yourself so hard you get dangerously close to burn-out? Or actually end up burning out? Or injuring yourself.

Not doing enough

There is also the other side of knowing your limits: that more insidious ‘giving up too easily’ thing. It’s hard to know what kind of tired is “just push through another hour!” and what kind of tired is “okay, stop right now and take a nap”. I think sometimes I get it wrong. I give up on something because I’m tired or stressed or anxious or whatever, when I could have carried on for just a little bit longer and been non-the-worse for it.

How do we know when its time to stop and when it’s time to carry on?

It really is such a hard question, because we all have different limitations based on our physical, emotional – and whatever else – abilities. Some days we can scale an overhanging rock face with ease and another we can barely stand on two feet.

I think there’s a few questions we can ask ourselves when deciding whether or not we should carry on, or take a break…

Knowing your limits infographic

How will this affect my health?

*or the health of others?
If you’re so tired you can’t see straight, or you’re so stressed you can’t even bear one more minute of a project – stop. Breathe. It’s time for a break now. If you’re pushing so hard you feel you’re heading for a burn-out, it’s time for some chill time.

Here’s a guide on how to spot an oncoming burn-out.

Will this get me where I need to go?

We’re all on a journey. Whether you’re needing to complete something for your career, or trying to beat your best personal running time, it’s important to keep focus and concentrate on the things that help you get where you’re going.

Can I succeed, with time?

Sometimes we can face something, and complete it just like that. BAM. Done. But… sometimes projects, tasks, challenges, take time. We need to ask ourselves whether this could eventually lead to success. If there’s a chance. Go for it! Sure, you might fail a few (or a lot of) times on the way, but that doesn’t matter!

Am I being true to myself?

Okay so you’re about to do the scary, hard thing you weren’t sure you could do. Wait! Before that… think: “does this reflect who I am?” When you’re pushing yourself and testing your limits, make sure you are doing things that are compatible with your values and that it’s not due to social pressure or fear.


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