How Well Do You Know You?
What drives you to get up in the morning? How do you feed and support that part of you? What do you do when it gets sluggish and slows you down?
Does your desire for perfection in what you do drive you to exhaustion? I am a recovering perfectionist.
I have put myself through several periods of intense overwork – working over 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months and months at a time. As a single parent, that meant taking time at the end of the “normal” work day to spend time with my kids and their activities before getting back to work.
They would sleep on cots at the office or I would bring work home. My mind and body got used to the relentless pace. Our lives got into a rhythm and I didn’t even think about it after a while.
It was routine. It seemed natural. Until I got sick, which invariably happened after doing this for too long. I would take it easy for a while after that – until I slipped into the habit of longer and longer days again until I burned out once more.
Now I am wary of getting myself too committed or too enthralled by something. I tell myself that my “Stop” button doesn’t work that well so I had better not even engage the “Start” button.
How is that for a self-defeating gremlin?
I know I am not the only one who holds myself back. According to research done by Gallup more than seventy percent of us are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in our work and at least one-third of us are dissatisfied with the money we earn, our opportunities to advance or the recognition we receive.
What are the stories you tell yourself that hold you back or keep you stuck? What is your big fear?
Not being enough or good enough, or smart enough? Are you afraid of failing?
Some people hold themselves back because they fear rejection, subliminally figuring that if they don’t put themselves out there, they can’t be rejected.
Others hold themselves in check because they are concerned about what people will think or say – they fear ridicule or they tell themselves their desire to please others outweighs their own needs.
My journey has taught me that when you hold one part of yourself back, other parts of you suffer. It is as if the filtering process is not that selective. Cutting the supply to one part of your psyche does not have the precision you would like.
The good news is that there are more effective solutions!
For example, I have learned to take “bite-sized chunks.” Instead of “aiming high and reaching far”, I find it better to set definite interim goals, small enough that I won’t overwhelm myself or others along the way. The extra payoff is that I get to perfect more things more often.
When you want or are trying to do something, where do you get stuck? Getting motivated and getting down to business are related, but not the same. Here are some common examples:
- Get excited, begin planning and getting ready and then stall and never get around to starting
- Spend time researching until you get confused or lost
- Give up before you start because you figure you don’t have the time or money
- Get excited and then overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin
- Get started but lose interest or get “blocked” somewhere along the way
- Begin, but start questioning your ability and end up feeling inadequate or ill-prepared
- Set yourself deadlines because you think you work best under pressure
- Get all excited and keen to get started on something you want to do when you are busy with other things but don’t get going on it when you have the time
Each of these situations calls for a different strategy and the reason you don’t do what you intend to do makes a difference as to whether a particular strategy will work or not.
What worked for you in the past may not work again – because the motivation or purpose is different this time.
Visioning, or envisioning the outcome, works in some situations and not in others.
Setting small rewards works – sometimes. So does setting small, specific goals. Deadlines have their place and developing a system of accountability is important in some circumstances and not others.
Imagine though, that you found the right triggers to dissolve what is holding you back from doing whatever it is you want to do. Just think what it would be like if you had a way to conquer those fears, the nagging doubts.
You would be unstoppable!
When you understand what gets you excited and what gets you actually doing, your life takes a different turn.
- You are able to put yourself on automatic pilot and trust that you are not going to simply flip the channel from the comfort of your couch.
- Your “when I…” intention will turn into a “when I did…” story you can recount
- Your ToDo list will shrink
- You will know exactly what to do on those days you just wake up with no motivation.
- The piles of “stuff” on your desk or in your garage will disappear.
Results! Accomplishments! These can be yours.