Are you driven to achieve yet feel unhappy?
Are you driven to achieve at something because you think it will earn you something of value? Yet you feel unhappy?
Is that something of value outside or within you? Is not achieving that something causing you stress and anxiety?
I learnt a huge lesson this week I’d love to share with you…
What I learnt about being driven to achieve and happiness
Packing for my big move into a new flat at the end of the month, I came across some old notebooks dated from 2001 that I kept partly as diaries (which I never seemed to keep up!) and as general ‘to do’ list books…I had rather a shock at reading through some…
There were repeated entries of things I thought I wanted and ‘should’ be doing …heavy demands upon myself such as within my career in the film business, my relationship with my then husband…
I had to sit down when I came across this biggie: ‘I want to achieve at my job so I’m respected and happy’ – Whoa! That hit me in the gut…did I really attach achievement to respect and happiness? And even respect from others over self-respect? Did I place such pressure on ‘achieving’, equating it to happiness?
Flicking through further entries I saw more demands and self-judgments – I ‘should’ be creating this…Why am I not successful at that? Such pressure!
Achieving…that was the reoccurring theme.
I know I’ve always been an achiever, driven by trying to please my parents, secretly seeking approval despite being the black sheep of the family, but seeing those words written by a me over 10 years ago opened my eyes to how I came to be in the place I am now; recovering from cancer brought on by stress and little self-love; being driven to achieve so many things that sat outside of myself.
I packed the books away but the uncomfortable discovery has sat with me all week.
How I noticed I was being an achiever yet unhappy
Then today I looked at my ‘to do’ list and felt tense, unhappy and deflated. Right! Enough of that! Surely there was something I could do to shift this?
I have homework for the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course I’m currently studying which has a 30 minute ‘sitting with difficulty mediation’, (yes – 30 mins?!) This seemed like the perfect opportunity…
Basically the idea is to notice the sensations and their locations within your body, as you notice thoughts come and go. I could feel the tightening in my gut and an impulse to stop sitting there doing nothing FFS! and get on and DO something! My whole body tingled with the feeling of being driven by the thoughts – it was quite an eye opener…
Listening to ‘myself’ I found such self-judgement and feelings of low level anxiety running throughout the background. Feelings at not achieving enough…not doing enough… not doing the things I said I’d do in June to meet my personal or business goals – the fact I’d been pretty ill for a couple of weeks just didn’t stand up to the accusations!
Then that statement: ‘I want to achieve in my job so I’m respected and happy’ came flooding back – how many years have I been listening to and being driven by, these demanding thoughts!? Thoughts and demands only created by me…Decades!
Time to take back control! How to be an achiever and happy
Often demands you make upon yourself are just thoughts, they’re not the truth. They’re your personal interpretation to an event or to a situation. Thoughts trigger feelings and sensations, which trigger emotions…
So, I’m not saying you have to take up meditation (although this would be a healthy habit to have 🙂 )
I’m suggesting that if you catch those demanding thoughts as they appear, and simply noticing that the thought is a pressure only coming from yourself, it can alter your feelings and emotions. These in turn can change your attitude towards something. Usually making you feel more at ease and happier.
So, I’m now going to get off my own back and stop being so demanding. I’m going back to approach my ‘to do’ list with more of an open mind and heart and stop thinking I must achieve everything on it to be successful and happy… life is too short to equate simply achieving with living…
Do you make too many demands upon yourself? Share your thoughts below as I’d love to hear from you!