It’s kind of embarrassing to talk about this, but for many, many years, I unknowingly suffered from an “achievement addiction,” and today I want to share a little bit of my story and hopefully help you to learn from my experience.
I have been teaching “productivity” for a long time. Building a Command Central changed my life, and it helped me to feel calm, even in the midst of overwhelm.
But “getting things done” and “finishing my checklist” was often a subconscious compulsion for me. I felt like it was the primary way I could keep my family safe, and I LOVED that feeling of accomplishment I felt at the end of a productive day.
And sure, I enjoyed my family as much as I could, but there were a few “warning signs” I didn’t know to look for:
(1) If I made a list and didn’t accomplish much of it, I felt like I’d failed, to an extent.
(2) If my husband or children talked to me too much, I felt annoyed that I wasn’t “getting to my work.”
(3) If an opportunity came up spontaneously to chat with a neighbor, go to an activity, do something fun/relaxing/social, etc., and if I WENT, I often felt this nagging feeling that I “should” be getting back to my tasks.
Now, obviously, we need to get some things done each day. We need to take care of our health, earn an income, feed our families, work toward goals that matter to us, and feel good about the lives we’re living.
But I made a mental switch recently that has really helped me.
Instead of thinking JUST about “Steps to Everyday Productivity” (our signature program with the acronym STEP), I replaced the “P” with a few other words:
- (And as Eric and I were talking, he added…) “Progress” (Progress doesn’t always mean being “productive.”)
A recent podcast by world-renowned psychiatrist Dr. David Burns recently opened my eyes even further to this concept of productivity addiction. He essentially said that we can feel joyful in life doing a VARIETY of things. We can feel joyful when we are productive, but we can also feel joyful when we are relaxing, listening, supporting others, enjoying conversations, etc.
So, while I STILL want a STEP Command Central on every desk–because I believe it will literally change the world as people stop drowning in piles and overwhelm, the MAIN reason I use my Command Central each day is so I can feel all these positive “P” words:
PEACE — knowing I am engaging with the people in my life in a way I will never regret–and my mind will feel calm in the process because it will know that nothing is late or forgotten.
PURPOSE — feeling focused and confident that the choices I’m making each day align with my values and are helping me to create a life I truly can’t wait to wake up and live.
POWER — being aligned with my Higher Power and feeling that joy that comes when you know that the success of everyone in the world doesn’t depend on YOU. There is a MUCH more capable Source that has things under control, yet I have the privilege to participate in the process. And…
PROGRESS — feeling that “lift” when you see that your efforts are making an impact for good–in your personal life, in your family relationships, and in the work you do for the broader world.
So, for those of you who may also have some challenges with “productivity” and want to be a little more thoughtful about how you approach your days, I hope that these ideas can strengthen you.
Please share your ideas in the comments–I think that together, we can shape our culture in really healthy, happy ways (and still get things done, but feel a lot better about life in the process).
Sending lots of love!
P.S. In the podcast, I also talked about some great mental-health advice I heard from two prominent therapists in our area. And I mentioned a “Wondrium” course I’m loving called “The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being” with Professor Ronald D. Siegal. It’s so good!
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For those who are new…our free training, “How to Finally Stop Drowning in Piles.” Someone who watched yesterday and joined STEP posted this: