You’ve poured your heart and soul into a huge project. You’ve met every deadline. The evaluations look great. Yet, none of it brings you joy. So many of us spend time chasing one finish line after the next only to end up asking ourselves, “is this all there is?”
We get so caught up in the process and expectations that we don’t really focus on fulfillment. To many of us forget to celebrate the success because we are still comparing ourselves to co-workers. Maybe you feel like you could have done even more. Perhaps you’re already so wrapped up in what the next project will be that you don’t take the time to reflect on what you just accomplished. Did you spend sleepless nights and long hours on a project only to find that its completion has left your physically drained? I think these feelings are very common among ambitious people.
So how can you bring more joy into your world?
Start by having a clear set of values. Before moving on to the next project, really look at whether it benefits you or your work. Does it cross boundaries you’ve put in place, especially in the amount of time or after hours activities that will be involved? Sometimes saying no can be the most joyful experience.
I’ve touched on this before, but you also need to define what success looks like for you. Maybe success comes from the quality time you have available to spend with family and friends. Maybe it comes from being able to afford yearly dream vacations. Let your mind wonder and see what speaks to you. Even just acknowledging these priorities can move you toward experiencing more joy. Most of us wouldn’t sit back and watch a bully pick on someone else. Yet we find it perfectly acceptable to bully ourselves internally. Why?
Many women have a destructive inner voice. We call ourselves mean names. We talk about how we aren’t “good enough.” We compare ourselves to others. We put ourselves last. If we witnessed most of these behaviors in others, 99 percent of us would be like “Girl, you gotta treat yourself better.”
So how do we end the internal bullying. First by becoming aware. Every time these negative thoughts enter your mind, you need to purposefully replace it with another more positive one. You’ve got to ask yourself where the thoughts come from. Realistically, most of us are not going to wake up tomorrow morning and go, “Wow, I look great!” But each of us can look in the mirror and go, “I look ok today,” or “I’m doing a good job.” Even just moving that little step forward and begin to have major impacts on your daily outlook.
The hardest hurdle for most women to overcome is moving herself off the back burner. If you can’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others or function at a high productivity level. You’ve got to find that place in your routine where you can schedule some “me time.” That might be a soak in the tub, a new exercise class, an evening walk – whatever you decide – make the appointment with yourself and keep it. Turn off your notifications. Enjoy some music or an audio book. Write or create something; whatever your go to escape is. You must replenish you before you can give to others.
Hopefully one day you’ll get to the point where you wonder where those negative thoughts every came from. You’ll see them as the destructive tenants they were. These thoughts limit who we can become and what we can accomplish. No matter how busy you are at work (or in life) make sure you take a few minutes to connect back with you. Give yourself some needed self-love. By granting yourself permission to do this every day, you’ll be a better co-worker, supervisor, and friend.