It’s been a while since I’ve done a Trigger HAPPY Thursday, because, as usual, life got in the way…and so I figured I’d use today’s video to address that very issue. (And if you’re not near a video-friendly place, here’s the “mostly transcript”):
Today’s Trigger HAPPY Thursday is brought to you by the letter “A.” Why? Because, as a culture, we’re conditioned to think that getting an “A” (or a promotion, or an award, or whatever metric you’re using to determine a societal assessment of your personal achievement) is the best way to measure one’s value as a human being.
It’s also brought to you by the letter “A” as in “Type A,” for the people for whom the achievement of an “A” is not only a nice goal, but the driver of a single-minded obsession, the source of their entire sense of self-worth.
Many of us out there are overachievers. It’s a fact. You’ve probably found the Skinny Genes blog because some of the obsessive perfectionism that led to my eating disorder resonated with you in some way. (And, if that’s the case, I’m sorry that you’re suffering from Type-A-itis. It’s a horrible disease, and very often left untreated.)
You may be a 9-5 overachiever. The kind who think a 40-hour work week is a sign of weakness, who feel guilty unless they are the first in the office and the last to go home, who go the unnecessary extra mile (stress and all–and you know how I feel about doing cardio) only to get the same raise, the same pat on the head or medal for participation, the same “A” as everyone else in the class. I can relate. Just yesterday I woke up at 6 am and started answering email before I had even gotten out of bed to brush my teeth–and then worked through physical therapy AND lunch, and still felt guilty for not getting enough done.
You may be an “extracurricular” overachiever. The kind who, in the online marketing world, are praised for their “hustle”–and rightfully so. Without hustle, they probably would never be able to build their passive-income generating blogs or “be everywhere” on social media. But while they’re overachieving at work for 8, 9, 10+hours a day (see above) and becoming CEO of their own online business while studying at Google University from the hours of 11 pm to 2 am, they’re missing out on the most important thing. Even more important than money or a high Klout Score (if you can believe that there is something more important than that): having a life. And getting sleep.
You may even be the kind of overachiever who takes even relaxation to the extreme. I remember one woman at my first Bikram studio in Boca Raton, FL used to bring an extra heater to the 4:30 pm class, which took place in a heated room with a western facing window in one of the most humid regions of the country. I’ll let that one sink in.
Today’s Trigger HAPPY Thursday follows the template of unconventional advice, but, as usual, bear with me: this Thursday, let’s underachieve on purpose. Now, I’m not advocating letting important responsibilities fall by the wayside, doing poorly at work, or giving up on your dream of a six-figure internet consulting business or graduating with honors. All I’m suggesting is that we take some time to reset expectations, and allow ourselves some forgiveness if we go for the A- instead of the A (or the A instead of the A+).
As a Type-A personality myself, I know how hard it is to put aside the need to prove myself to others instead of honoring myself for me. I know how hard it is to take a day off from the gym or lift lighter or run less than I wanted to. I know how hard it is to say “no” to taking on the extra project or staying up a few more hours in order fit in another check mark for the to-do list.
But sometimes you just have to go home at 5 pm. Sometimes you have to read a book instead of another “6 secrets for improving your SEO” blog post. Sometimes you have to do yoga or take a nap instead of doing another set of burpees. Sometimes you have to do your homework on the morning when it’s due instead of pulling an all-nighter to fit it in.
I’m struggling to take my own advice, which is why I’m talking about it publicly. Just like some people need to be held accountable in order to achieve, I need to be held accountable so I can take a break.
Personally, I’ve been trying to “underachieve” by leaving work at 5 and either going to the gym or yoga every day. I’m still working on it though–I feel guilty for leaving after an 8 hour day, so I still work on the train on my way home (and sometimes later into the night once I’m back in my house). I’m trying to learn how to “work smarter not harder,” and I’m taking taking that one baby step and just fitting in some time where the “me” who I am isn’t being measured, judged, or made to fit a metric or a mold. I’m trying to start working toward a place where I don’t feel the need to live up to my own perception of anybody else’s standards, where I’m not on a deadline, self-imposed or otherwise.
So how are you going to underachieve today? Can you pick just one thing to spend less unnecessary energy on, or can you find a new activity that will revitalize you while you’re overachieving in the rest of your life? Let me know.
Looking forward to hearing your replies!