Are you juggling multiple priorities, faultlessly delivering? Your children are doing well at school; your partner is always there sharing tasks? Are you organised to the hilt?
It’s a constant challenge to keep the oil slick of work and achievements under control. Do you really go all out when it comes to fulfilling your KPIs or meeting a client’s brief? Is the word “no” lost in your vocabulary?
When you know exactly what you’re dealing with, and everything is swimming along very nicely, it’s a great feeling. So long as nothing significant emerges…
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Obstacles and setbacks
Then that something happens. You wobble momentarily but take it in your stride, plan around it. Along comes something else, and another, and another, followed by more. You grit your teeth, insist silently that you are more than equal to coping with these issues. In fact, you field them quite well, even admirably. Later at home you crumple.
Your bar may have been lifted so many times you can barely see it! It’s higher than it has ever been and you are still pushing upwards to be superwoman/man. But the higher it goes the bigger the fall.
Why can’t you ease up? Does everything have to be done perfectly? Do you have to do everything? Can’t you leave yourself alone? That microscope you’re squirming under is actually your own, but you can’t remove it. Admit it: you hate your expectations of yourself. Oh, you alpha creature. You slave to the rhythm.
Inner taskmaster and LBM
That inner taskmaster gives you no peace. “Always be the best,” it hisses. The inner taskmaster is always ON and will notice anything less than perfect well before anybody else.
Time to conjure up your LBM – Laid Back Me. No, not the one who slumps in front of TV eating junk food, too lazy to get up and do anything constructive! We’re talking the less plucked and coiffed, dressed down, more chilled version of you that likes to laugh and have some fun.
Actually, you like this person way better than that other relentless, tediously competitive, fast talking uber-achiever perfectionist. You’d rather be more like him/her anyway. And does it really hold you back? You might be canned from your job or some other prized long-term goal, or you may lose your job anyway, and it could well have absolutely zip to do with how well you performed. Maybe not being too precariously high or highly strung means there’s less distance to fall if the going gets tough!
So, what’s stopping you?
Lightening up (embracing LBM) will render you human, more accessible and possibly even more effective. You’re no longer the office superstar, and what a relief. Your colleagues and staff will probably relate to you better. They want to work with you now – and you may actually want to work with them.
Think about it. Are you pushing yourself too far?
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.