When I was a kid, my parents had expectations for me. I was expected to get “A” grades in nearly every subject. My teachers had expectations for me too. Friends, acquaintances, and coworkers told me for as long as I can remember, “You’re going to be famous,” or “Remember me when you’re wildly successful!”
They expected me to do great things, which made me feel like I should do great things. So I pushed myself. Then I would push myself more. If I stopped excelling at something, I just gave up.
As a sophomore, I had a free period so I filled it with Chinese language, on a whim. I found it really clicked with me. I often got 100% on my homework and tests. It was a little crazy how high my average was. When I got to college and started taking Chinese, my scores slipped a little bit. I think I got something in the low 90s. It didn’t matter that one of my teachers, from China, complimented me regularly on my pronunciation. I couldn’t handle my lower scores. I dropped the class.
I couldn’t deal with the idea of NOT achieving. Anything less than total domination in Chinese was failure. It was like the quote from the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby…
“If you’re not first, you’re last!”
It’s an inherited problem – this need to be an over-achiever. My mother has it. My grandfather had it, and his mother before him. But I don’t think they had it quite like I had it. I had it to the point of possible neurosis – to the point of self-harm. Over-achievement a common issue for entrepreneurs – especially solopreneurs. Just check out Mariah Coz’s blog post about her launch of Femtrepreneur. And she’s not alone in that pursuit.
Entrepreneurs aren’t alone in this. I don’t know how many posts I see from creatives, and especially women who try to be “superheroes” juggling parenting, passions, work, marriage, and home!
It’s a recipe for misery.
Overdrive Isn’t Healthy
I had an intense need for accomplishment, and the accompanying accolades. I thought I didn’t need this, but did. I thought my value was tied to my achievement. I had so much I wanted to do – so much I want to realize even now. There are projects – classes, manuals, journals, novels, series, retreats, and more. There are businesses, nonprofits, experiences, products, and people…. But with this kind of thinking, there is no rest. There is no waiting. There is no sitting around and relishing.
When I was in the middle of this insanity, I might pause. There might have been a little wine and cheese break. I may smell some flowers and appreciate a pretty view. But when it’s over, I returned to the battle – the conquest – the undying need. My little vampire. My little Audrey 2.
How did I do that to myself?
The only answer is: I didn’t value myself. I had something to prove. I felt inferior.
There was never enough. This level of ambition implies a distinct lack of life satisfaction. I discovered this, much to my chagrin, and adjusted accordingly. I culled the projects down. I cut out certain pieces and clarified others, which of course, allowed me to keep pushing.
Almost a year ago, I pushed myself right to overdrive’s illogical conclusion – joint pain. My wrists, fingers, thumbs, and arms screamed in protest as I tried to pick up the lightest items. I felt the pressure to be and do more.
When I was in the middle of that, I saw the pain as a burden. I was angry with myself and with my situation. I was frustrated by the whole thing.
How could I succeed if my body wasn’t cooperating?
How could I succeed if I didn’t work 10 hours a day?
How could I show my value if I didn’t succeed?
Looking back at that time, I realize I had a lot of self-work left to do. I hadn’t accepted myself. Everything was still a source of pain and despair. I was acting out of fear – fear of being worthless, of scarcity, of judgment by others. I thought if I didn’t succeed, I wouldn’t be good enough. I was afraid that I would become irrelevant.
It’s ironic that such an experience and working through this fear would make me MORE powerful, MORE self-assured, MORE relevant, MORE grateful – I became better in every way. But first I was humbled. First I had to stop. My body was the catalyst for the change, for which I am extremely grateful.
Goals versus Intentions
Now that I’m wiser, I realize that goals are not the end-all. Achievement isn’t where I get my worth. I’m worthy of good things just by being me. I LOVE me. I LOVE my life! I feel happy, joyful, peaceful, loving, and loved EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! It’s because I reached a place of acceptance about myself. It’s because I practice self-forgiveness. It’s because I meditate daily.
It caused a chain-reaction, and I’m still seeing new wonderful surprises every single day.
I grew into a healthier relationship with achievement based on intention as opposed to goals. I set my intentions for the day. I make them realistic, but when life gets in the way, it’s all right for them not to get done that day. They get shifted to the next. I adjust my process and move on.
So take a break. Slow down. Embrace balance. Approach your goals with loving intention, not fear. Your body (and life) with thank you.
Need more guidance in taking care of yourself? My course, The Heart Unboxed: How to Love the Unloveable, gives you the tools and strategies you need to show yourself more love (and it changes every part of your life for the better!)! Enroll here!
If you want more personal guidance, schedule a FREE “Rapid Change” session with me now! I’ll give you clarity, perspective, and support for you to live more intentionally and love yourself better (it’s SO worth it!)! Contact me here to schedule today!
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