You must have heard the phrase: “Superman Syndrome”? It describes a person who keeps taking on more workload, more responsibility and more challenges into there daily routine. Someone who is incredibly ambitious, driven and motivated by opportunities that life presents itself with. This isn’t limited to the workplace but to everyday life as well. It is the blinkered, ambitious attitude of:
“I want to do this so I’ll just fit it in…”
This is a great attitude to have to a certain extent; however, it can have negative effects on a person’s well being. You can only keep up a punishing schedule for so long before your body will throw its tools down and drive you to a stand still. Your brain will want you to continue but your body will not. This is where the phrase “Superman Syndrome” has come from. Superman is someone who is strong, fit, super-human and has a un-defeatist attitude. The human body needs time to recover and to re-build to strengthen and adapt to the extra strains that you are giving it. By refusing to let up the pressure and to doggedly continue then eventually you will crash and become ‘burnt out’. This must be avoided at all costs. If you burn out then all that work would have gone to waste because by the time you can fully recover (which dependent on the severity of the burn out could be from 1 day to 12 months, if not longer) then you could, potentially be starting again from scratch. It could become a vicious circle over and over again if you do not learn from this mistake.
It is easy to fall into this syndrome in these modern times with the accessibility of so much information at your fingertips. Just with a smart phone you are connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with emails and social media alerts being pushed to your phone as instantly as they were sent. You are traceable, contactable and held to account as easily as it is to breathe. Being this connected can add to the tendency to fall into a spiral of doing too much. The positive of this over connectivity is that your successes are praised almost instantaneously. On the flip side of this, your failures are broadcast at the same astonishing rate. As a result the stakes have never been so high resulting in the over-exertion of oneself to succeed at all costs. The merits of failure are overshadowed. Failure teaches us a valuable lesson and can also give us the drive to succeed next time round:
“It is better to try and fail then never to try in the first place”
However, failure is seen in this society as all time low, something to avoid at all costs, a life-crushing philosophy. This drives people to keep pushing, pushing, and pushing until they succeed what they set out to do. Although a great trait to have, the eventual detrimental effects on the body and the mind could be long lasting and severe. My advice: push as hard as you can but allow time for your body to catch up with your mind and recover. Yes, we are only on this planet for a short period of time but you don’t want to spend a large proportion of it laid up in bed recovering from your over-punishing schedule. Push for your goals but not at the detriment of your health.
I bring this to you from personal experience; I am a sucker for a blinkered response to life’s challenges. If I set my mind towards a goal, I will achieve it. However, I have also burnt out more times then I can remember. The recovery time from burn out is one of the most demoralising, energy sapping and time wasting period I have ever experienced. Take my advice, take on the challenges, the extra workload, and the additional social events but do your self a favour: build in some rest time. You will be grateful for it in the future. You have the time to achieve your goals and ambitions but do it sustainably.
The “Superman Syndrome” is not a compliment from another person concerning your ability to keep going. It is a warning and one that you should take seriously. A balanced life is a happy life! Superman is only a fictional character after all.