power drain


lisa fabrega


On Sunday, I fired a service provider I’d worked with for almost two years. I liked them as a human being and I greatly enjoyed my work with them. But there was a sneaky thing that kept happening that ultimately made the relationship untenable.

It’s also the culprit of one of the biggest complaints I hear from the ambitious people I work with: burnout. 

Often the people I work with think the culprit of that burnout is something strategic. Perhaps they should fire their whole team, change their business model, learn better communication skills for work, find a better launch strategy, take a sabbatical or buy another organizational system.

But one of the biggest and SECRET drainers of your power and energy is none of that.

It’s the hidden emotional labor you’re doing. Whether at home or work.

I fired the service provider because of the emotional labor he required. There was the incident (and subsequent similar ones) where he took off a long weekend, but assured me he’d be back on Tuesday. Then never showed up. Due to his own lack of organization he didn’t bring the right charger for his phone and didn’t plan ahead to have reception for his client calls that day.

Then there were the morning surf sessions he decided to start taking with his significant other before our meetings. Which resulted in him having to take almost every meeting for the last few weeks from his car, with his girlfriend sometimes in the car during our session. This put me in an awkward position of either violating my privacy or having to ask her to leave. 

There was also him expecting me to explain how Zoom works when the pandemic started and we had to switch our meetings to virtual. And his inability to call up Zoom support and figure his situation out constantly resulting in tech glitches and delays/issues with our calls that hadn’t been worked out ahead of time.

There were smaller things like tracking our session count haphazardly so I always had to dig back into my calendar months back and compare his count to my counted sessions. His count was often wrong. It resulted in a ton of back and forth which took up a lot of time.

Or the times I gave ample notice I’d be missing a session, only to receive texts from him on the day of, confused as to why I wasn’t there. ONE more unnecessary text I had to respond to on a busy day. He could have looked at his own text thread to verify I’d told him I wouldn’t be attending that session over a week ago. Instead, he waited for me to remind him.

None of this was done maliciously. And I’m an adult and don’t expect anyone to be tracking sessions for me. I always tell my clients you’re responsible for yourself and I take that to heart and show up that way when I hire a service provider too.

But his lack of professionalism and organization left me constantly in two, uncomfortable positions:

  • I either had to be the one constantly doing the little bits of emotional labor for him, reminding him of things he should be doing on his own.
  • Or being put into the position of the nag or b*tch. For example, why should you ever put your client in the position of asking you not to have your girlfriend in a car for sessions. Isn’t it a given you should be professional and not do such things?

Having to be put in BOTH of those positions is draining. We’ve got enough drainage going on right now just trying to manage life and work in a pandemic. And I’m all for giving people grace and extra leeway during a pandemic. Isolated incidents are okay. Tech issues happen. But when it’s a pattern that consistently drains me in a million tiny ways, issa problem.

Like you, I’m busy and juggling many life obligations. I need every ounce of my energy and capacity reserved for my next level. The LAST thing I desire to give my precious energy reserves to is scolding, nagging or correcting someone who isn’t taking responsibility for themselves, their organization and their lives as an adult. 

In the moment when these incidents happen, you think to yourself, “eh, it doesn’t hurt, it’s just one text or one short response.” But it’s never one little thing. It’s always a million little bits of emotional labor that add up. Your little leaks become a combined waterfall of drainage. And then you wonder why you’re drained, tired and overwhelmed. 

Sometimes what’s causing your burnout is a capacity deficit. Emotional labor is one of the ways you undercut your capacity and leak your power. Learning Boundary Capacity helps you STOP the leaks.

So I wished him well and I fired him. Nope, I didn’t give him feedback for why I parted. Because that would require MORE free emotional labor by “educating” a person who just wants to live his life in this moment as a free-spirited being who isn’t interested in prioritizing professionalism. 

It’s not up to me to expend energy being the wet blanket to his priorities. It’s not up to me to make people be who I want them to be. It’s up to me to take them as they are and believe what their actions say about their priorities. 

It’s not always your job to educate people. Let them figure it out for themselves and walk away towards where your energy will be equally met.

If you’re ready to quit the emotional labor and expand your capacity for your next level, fill out the Capacity Discovery form here and let’s talk.