I am my own worst enemy.
I am also the person who pushes me toward excellence.
I make me miserable some days with constant mental replays of my darkest moments.
I set (and achieve!) goals for things I did not think were possible.
I struggle with keeping the good stuff – work ethic, motivation, output…
…and not driving myself crazy with the not-so-good parts – perfectionism, intolerance for mediocrity, focus on missteps.
Maybe you have similar struggles?
Recently, I was speaking to a group of 300+ school counselors in El Paso, Texas. I had several interesting discussions with the participants about feeling overwhelmed at work.
And if anyone knows about overwhelm, it is a school counselor.
Their job is a constant barrage of mandated documentation, coupled with a need to be proactive, while also reacting swiftly to health-related emergencies among the students they are there to support.
And, they really want to help. People don’t become school counselors for the sky’s-the-limit budgets and widespread acclaim that comes with the job. <sarcasm>
So, without that internal drive to succeed at their jobs, where would they be?
Where would you and I be?
We want to both maintain our excellent results while not beating ourselves up for any hint of failure in our outputs.
Easy peasy! <sarcasm…again>
It’s not easy, but maybe we can chip away at our self-destructive behaviors together.
How to achieve excellence and NOT drive yourself crazy
1. Choose no more than one to three “targets” for your excellence at any one time.
Make these targets as specific as possible. No global “be a good parent” stuff – there are too many opportunities for self-flagellation in broad statements like that.
Be specific. Choose to excel at meal planning for a couple of weeks. Select one project at work that will receive your best, most focused, efforts for the next month. Write these things down and display them prominently where you work. You’ll need the reminders.
2. Choose three to five things to really stink at (for a time).
Strive to royally stink at these things. Relish your stinkiness. Be the best at not cooking healthy, delicious dinners for your family this week. Be the most prolific meeting invite decliner that your organization has ever seen for the next few days.
Understand that there are seasons in life and in work. We may not be able to do something well now, but that doesn’t mean we will stink at it forever.
3. Delegate or outsource everything you possibly can.
Perfectionists loathe asking others for help. It is the ultimate admission of weakness.
The Mental Health Implications
If you are your own worst enemy, you can run but you cannot hide. The enemy will always be with you.
Schedule an appointment with your therapist (or find one!). There’s nothing like a good mental health checkup to really delve into the issues that feed your anxiety.
Be kind to yourself.
That was a key message in my presentation to the school counselors in El Paso.
Humans are born imperfect and we die imperfect.
You deserve it.
Is perfectionism your productivity barrier?
Check out my online course, Unwrapping Perfectionism.
Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.