Link love: Letting go of overachieving

As a recovering perfectionist and someone with considerably more interests than I have time, I frequently find myself trying to do too much. This condition generally leads to high levels of stress and frustration, inadequate self-care, and emotional (and sometimes physical) meltdowns when allowed to continue for too long.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to catch this pattern sooner in the process so that I can avoid the more extreme effects that can come from doing too much for too long, but I find that frequent reminders of the importance of monitoring my energy levels and the size of my to-do list help to keep me on track with this. This week’s links are a set of posts about doing too much and have served as great reminders to me of how I do (and don’t) want to live my life.

The first link is from Shauna Niequest’s blog and is called My Drug & My Defense. This is a very insightful look at the ways that she uses being busy both as a numbing drug and as a defense for not being perfect. Not only can I see myself in her descriptions of the ways that she does this, I also resonate with her desire to drop these behaviors in order to live her life more fully. This post is a real inspiration for doing things differently.

The author of the One Hot Mess(age) blog has a fantastic post called How to create your own Perfect Storm: Expectations and Self-Care Revisited. She tells the story of a situation where extra high expectations and inadequate self-care combined to create a real crisis in her life. I can completely relate to this phenomenon having done it many, many times to myself, but the lighthearted way that she tells the story still had me laughing—even as I cringed in recognition. If you have any tendencies at all toward high expectations of yourself, this one is worth reading! Her analogy to the perfect storm has served me well in catching myself when I’m headed toward a similar storm.

J. B. Wood of the Shrinking the Camel blog had a post called Attention Overachievers: You Have Permission to Let Go several months ago. This post takes a look at the prevalence of overachieving and pushing ourselves harder to do more and more in our culture. Nothing ever seems to be enough for us. I love the way this post gives the reader permission to do what is necessary for self-care. It gives explicit permission for all kinds of ways to let go and encourages us to give ourselves permission in whatever ways best meet our own personal needs. I find that I often need to explicitly give myself permission in just this way to let go of my extra high expectations.

And finally, from Seth Godin’s blog comes a post called The end of should. As with many of his posts, this short statement about letting go of the shoulds that drive us speaks more eloquently than many things I’ve read that have been much longer. As one who has a tendency to place way too many shoulds on myself, I love his final line: “Find your should and make it go away.” Most of the time when I am driving myself to do too much, there is a should at the root of the problem that just needs to go away.

How do you keep yourself from doing too much?

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

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