Tag Archives: Achievement

Delightfully Imperfect

When I was a child, I learned that I had to be perfect to be loved by my mother. I had to do everything perfectly, in the way that she defined perfect. 

The big problem with that, is that the bar of perfection was always raised and therefore was never achievable. And of course, “perfect” is subjective. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I’m a very achievement-oriented person.

I don’t remember much of my childhood, but what I do remember is rapid-fire snippets of criticism and rejection. “You could have done better.” “You need to lose weight.” “You are a horrible person.”

“YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!” was my internalization.

I made it my story. 

I didn’t even have to hear it anymore; I had produced my own voice to it. Echoes of “you’re not good enough”  followed me throughout my life. Everything I did, everyone I met and everywhere I went, it echoed through my head. 

So what did I do? I overachieved professionally. I dove headfirst into a life filled with career in order to avoid the pain of constant failure. In order to define me, I wanted to achieve. If I could somehow do enough or be enough, then my internal critic would stop.

But I followed me everywhere I went, and my very loud pain-in-the-butt inner critic did too. No matter how high I strived, it was never enough, and always left me feeling like a failure.

I internalized the lessons of my childhood. What I didn’t understand at the time, is that it’s nearly impossible to be loved by someone who doesn’t love themselves. But my child brain translated this as an opportunity to do better, and by trying to improve, I might get that love that I wanted.

Not that I achieved perfection, but that was my lofty goal. When I’d receive accolades, I would be outwardly thankful, but inside was calculating what I could have done better and what I would aspire to the next time.

My quest for perfection was exhausting, and kept me from enjoying so many wonderful things in my life. It also kept me from taking a lot of chances and risks, because if I didn’t think I could achieve perfection, or at least do really well, then I wouldn’t do it.

Image

 

I saw a presentation by Don Miller and he introduced this graphic along with the suggestion, “What if we are not the identities we project? What happens when we operate out of our false selves?…We are not our failures; we are also not our successes… Sometimes fear is expressed as being careful.”

He then posed three questions: 

  1. Who are we?
  2. What do we want to do?
  3. What’s the first step?

We have the power to write our own story. “What if our life is a memoir about to be written?” 

It’s empowering to consider where I want my life to go from here, and it’s really scary as well. My goal in the coming weeks is to consider the questions posed by Don and to engage techniques discussed by another presenter at the World Domination Summit to write my own story; I’m not seeking perfection, though, but “good enough.” As Don said, “no masterpiece is perfect.”

I aspire to be delightfully imperfect.

Advertisements

A Different Ruler

I’ve always been an achievement-oriented person.

I remember being a child and always striving to be the best at what I set as my goal. It could be grades in school, and being the best didn’t just mean getting the best grade on a test, but also getting a better grade then I did on the last test.

Though I can be competitive with other people, the person I most often compete with is myself. I’m always striving to improve upon what I’ve done in the past to constantly set the bar higher. I’m not a very athletic person: hand-eye coordination and balance are unfortunately skills that I was not blessed with, so the primary venue for my competition has been professional.

I always had to put the bar higher and had to achieve professionally to feel successful, happy and confident.

What about now that I am in a professional limbo of sorts? I’m not looking to rise another rung on the corporate ladder and I’m not seeking acclaim for the work that I do. Instead, I’m looking to work regular hours doing good work, but not investing more of me than is required to get the job done.

I decided that I had to redefine achievement.

I started this process of changing my mindset during my sabbatical of sorts, when I was enjoying my “lady of leisure” status. Now that I’m back working in corporate, I find I need to remind myself of my goals and why I’m here so I don’t fall back into the same hole of giving too much of myself to my work.

I now measure my day by how many things I did that I enjoy, or that I find rewarding. These are things like visiting with my hospice patient, hiking with my dog or a rescue dog, going to pet therapy, writing, meeting friends and hiking, among others.

 Image

Image courtesy of Felixco, Inc. / FreeDigitalPhotos.net