Ten years from now, I will look back on today in one of two ways: either with pride that everything I did was taking me towards my vision of success or with regret that everything I did today was taking me nowhere.
It’s hard enough striving for goals that you know are attainable. The next promotion… running a marathon… buying a home…
It’s another thing to strive for goals that you made up.
That kind of blind trust is not for the lighthearted.
It’s not just physically demanding. It’s emotionally draining. On the good days it’s great. On the bad days it’s shit. And the way to ride this rollercoaster? Is building a life that supports you to ride the rollercoaster.
Your next level won’t allow you to be a perfectionist.
Early in my career, I could get away with being a functioning perfectionist—replying to emails within the hour, getting every admin task done on my to-do list, drafting an email twenty times, and so many other ”look how perfect I am” tasks. Now? My imperfection is a muscle I have to flex so I can move faster.
Your next level also won’t allow you to be a people pleaser.
When I set my 2021 goal of bringing more creativity into my life and expressing myself online, I didn’t know this would force me to push up against my people pleasing tendencies. People pleasing, it turns out, is a symptom of not having a voice. All those little moments of not wanting to offend anyone? They were never based on me being such a good person, they were based on my fear of having someone interpret me in the wrong way. People pleasing is nothing more than little prison sentences we create for ourselves. Trapped somewhere because we don’t want to offend by leaving. Taking on more work because we don’t want to offend by saying no. Now? I’m flexing the muscle of not caring how others choose to interpret me.
Your next level also won’t allow you to be an overachiever.
There’s a point in our career where we stop getting gold stars. For those of us who have tasted success in the linear world—athletics or academics—we become used to the gold stars. We expect them. But you can only get a gold star if there’s someone above you in the hierarchy. Someone who has the box of gold stars to hand out. Outside of the linear world, there’s no longer anyone above you with a box of gold stars. You have the box of gold stars now. And what becomes more important than chasing validation is knowing what “enough” looks like. It’s that popular saying of, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” Now? I’m working to strike a balance between how much I achieve and how proud I feel of myself. There’s only so far that feeling worthless will motivate you to push yourself. There’s only so much work you can take on before burning yourself out. Eventually, you have to start prioritizing the inner game.
It’s easy to get away with being a functioning perfectionist, people pleaser, and overachiever.
… when you’re at a certain level.
But the power to blindly trust in yourself and your vision of success? It comes from dropping them.