Guest post written by Catherine Chen, Health Coach at catherinechenwellness.com.
While catching up over dinner with one of my favorite consultant-friends, I listened to George* as he admitted his challenges with drawing limits on how much overtime he was putting in for his clients. George gains significant satisfaction from putting in long hours of hard work and receiving the appreciation from the client (and who doesn’t?). When feedback is less than great, however, he’s rattled and can’t sit with it and it makes him work harder for the approval. Even as he recalled those moments, I could sense his time-travel-induced agitation – it was clearly stressing him out.
In any line of work, the more effort you put in, the more you are appreciated – but sometimes there’s a point where no matter how hard you work, the results just don’t line up with others’ expectations. If everything doesn’t go according to plan and make everyone happy, it’s easy to believe that you should have planned more, done more, been more.
Thoughts like “I didn’t do enough” or “I’m not enough” may motivate us for the next task, but they are also draining mental scripts that prevent you from being at peace with your level of accomplishment.
With this mindset, you could work for years into the wee hours of the night and still never be at peace with your achievements. And unless you are at peace with your accomplishments and capabilities, you may continue to work yourself to the ground with no real satisfaction, even if you do receive appreciative feedback along the way. So how do you make sure you achieve your best while not sacrificing yourself in the long run?
Take one minute each day to acknowledge how far you’ve come and feel genuine appreciation for your awesomeness.
Write a list of all the accomplishments that you are proud of and take in the list. For every accomplishment, reflect on the many conditions that had to coincide for you to be able to achieve it. You may have had a certain education, knowledge in a specific field, met certain people, come into contact with certain organizations. Yes, you may have actively sought these opportunities, but they also came to us in a way of chance. How wonderful is it that we recognized our opportunities and an achievement came of it? When we take a bird’s eye view of our achievements and truly appreciate the complexity of our path, we feel a tad more grateful and at peace with where we currently are. Actively working on what needs to be done while acknowledging your own efforts on a daily basis ensures that you trust your own level of commitment and let that guide your work ethic. By no longer seeking approval of others, you may find yourself OK with working less overtime.
*names have been changed
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Catherine Chen is a certified Health Coach for busy professionals who want to eat and think in ways that give them more energy and time to do what they love. If you enjoyed this article, sign up to receive more tips from Catherine to reduce stress and enjoy a vibrant life at www.catherinechenwellness.com.