I’ve spent most of my life trying to be an achiever. (Often successfully.)
It served me well in many ways…. I got good grades, earned scholarships, completed my goals, learned to work hard, protected myself and my family, built websites, wrote books, exercised regularly, kept a clean house, and created a long list of things that can be officially marked as “done.”
But this focus on achievement (which I didn’t really admit/acknowledge until now) has also been the primary source of my internal angst.
I haven’t completely made the transition yet, but I’ve finally realized that I can still reach my goals, live a happy life, protect the people I love, and pursue my purpose without setting my sights on the achievements themselves. It’s time to shift my identity from achiever to becomer.
But let’s step back for a moment.
A few weeks ago, I shared that a community member asked me why I’m so hard on myself. That question pierced my heart, and while I don’t know that I have the whole answer, I think it dates back to when I was in the 5th through 8th grades.
That was the “awkward” stage for me. I struggled with my weight, spent hours watching TV and eating in my bedroom, had some tricky friendships, and essentially felt like I was never going to fit in socially.
However, it was during that time that I realized I could stand out for my achievements. If I got the best grades in the class, at least I was known as “the smart girl.” When I won the election for president of our elementary school, my dad introduced me to everyone as “the president,” and I received all sorts of congratulations. When I started using a planner at age 13 and became really organized, my peers asked for “planner tours,” and I felt really special because I knew how to make lists and get them checked off.
I started seeing myself as a leader, and when I worked hard and got focused, I could get parts in the school plays, earn positions in clubs, win essay contests for things like “Principal for a Day,” and feel respected for being so responsible and accomplished–even though I sat home alone most weekends and used food to replace the loneliness.
Things got better in 9th grade and onward, and I had lots of friendships and happy moments throughout high school, college, and over the past 25 years of marriage and motherhood, but that inner desire to “achieve,” continued to burn. (Sometimes with a vengeance.)
There’s more to the story, and I’m sure I’ll be sharing additional stories in the future, but for today, I’d like to invite you to join me on an adventure–moving from achiever to becomer. (Don’t you think that’s a fun name for our community members at LearnDoBecome…”Becomers”?)
I have a LOT of notes, ideas, examples, object lessons, etc. but let’s start with a simple question:
In the areas of your life that matter most, where do you notice yourself leaning toward achievement–and what characteristics, habits, and perspectives would help you lean more toward becoming?
As Eric and I were talking about this concept, we realized that the specifics will look different for everyone. We can’t make a standard guide defining achievers and becomers because it’s based so much on our past experiences, our personalities, our current circumstances, and our individual goals.
So instead, I’m going to share a few principles I recorded in my personal chart–and then we have a worksheet you can download that can help you personalize these ideas in a way that will be most helpful to you.
Okay, here’s my personal comparison chart (on a computer, these will appear side by side, but on a phone, “Achiever” comes first and “Becomer” is below):
End goal = winning the race
Leaves me feeling I’m never enough
Feeds the ego
Evaluates success based on the general public’s standards
Impatient & frustrated
Checks off the boxes
Manipulation of self and others is encouraged
Achieves a short-term “hit”
Pseudo feelings of elation
Depends on physical health/energy
Impeded by compassion, rest, and replenishment (better not stop!)
Induces chronic stress
Fears being laughed at
Can become obsessive
Sees weaknesses as liabilities
Makes me feel superior
Avoids the mundane at all costs
Fears failure (#2 is the first loser)
Ashamed of flaws
End goal = being refined
Seeks to be an instrument for good
Keeps me feeling content
Releases the ego
Evaluates success based on Higher Power’s standards
Patient & understanding
Prioritizes mental and relational health
Focuses on long-term happiness
Works in any situation (even when sick)
Augmented by compassion, rest, and replenishment
Relieves chronic stress
Can see the humor in daily life
Sees weaknesses as areas for growth
Helps me see all people as equals
Sees beauty in the mundane
Knows there is no “failure”
Accepts (even loves) flaws
What’s interesting to me about this comparison chart is how relaxed and empowered I feel when I read the “Becomer” side. Did you feel that way, too? (I’d love to hear in the comments….)
And before I introduce the worksheet, I want to give an example of how this can apply to everyday decisions.
Let’s say you have 10 more things on your to-do list, but a loved one who is going through something hard reaches out and needs your help. It might be tempting to think that the “becomer” drops everything to prioritize the relationship, and the “achiever” focuses on the list, instead.
But I don’t think that is always the case. For me, the achiever-mentality would stick to the list unless “stopping now” would save time later. “The list” would trump everything else. But the becomer inside me would look at the big picture and ask questions like, “Is it wiser to pause my list and prioritize this relationship, based on my personal values, or is it wiser to create a healthy boundary and give myself a chance to do my work today–and then I can offer support a little later on?”
Achievers and becomers BOTH get things done, but it’s the way things get done and the way we end up feeling at the end of the day that are the distinguishing factors.
Okay, I think that’s enough of a description for today! Here’s what we have for you inside this worksheet:
- We’ve created a list of categories that most of us manage on a daily basis. Those are listed on the left.
- Then we have two columns to the right–one for “Achiever” and one for “Becomer.”
- We invite you to consider each category and record what you tend to do when you’re in the achiever or becomer mode.
- Then we encourage you to decide where you want to make changes–and practice doing so throughout the next week, month, etc.
- You could store this worksheet inside Evernote/Google Drive/Google Keep/One Note, etc. so it’s available for you to review later!
Good luck, and please let us know how it goes!
ARISE Can Be Your New “Happy Place” 🙂
When we first launched ARISE, we didn’t quite know what it would become–or how much we would love it. Now that it’s been going strong for a year and a half, we’re taking things to the next level, and ARISE is going to be a major focus here at LearnDoBecome moving forward.
Our next live class is Tuesday, December 13th at 10am Pacific (with immediate replays inside the membership!), and the topic is “Success Metrics – How Will You Measure Your Life?” We’ll be pulling the BEST principles from one of our favorite books and helping all of us to end the year with a solid, healthy perspective that will lead us happily into 2023.
AND we’ve just created a private podcast for all ARISERS! That means you can access all current and past class recordings (and bonus audios!) from your favorite podcast app (Apple, Spotify, etc.) and listen on the go, without having to log in! You can even download the audios for off-line listening.
Click here to learn more about ARISE!
Registration for Four Weeks to Finished opens December 13th!
Want to build your STEP Command Central in just four weeks–with tons of support, coaching, friends, bonus resources, and simplified lessons? The official month of training begins Thursday, February 2nd, but here’s why we’re opening registration early:
>>>It could be a great end-of-year business expense if you own a business or work for an employer who’d like to invest in you! We don’t give specific tax advice here, but building your Command Central will bring more focus, order, and joy to your professional work. Our entire team runs on STEP, and it’s amazing to work together when nothing slips through the cracks. 🙂
>>>For those who want to ease into the new year, but make progress from the start, Team LearnDoBecome will be going live in the special Four Weeks to Finished Facebook Group each week in January–providing very simple ways to prepare for the group session, clear space in your schedule, and set yourself up for success!
Click here to get on the waitlist/learn more!
Wow!!! You really nailed this!! I’m looking greatly forward to exploring this at length! Thank you!
This (achiever vs. becomer) is powerful stuff! I appreciated your examples. Thank you.
Kathy K says
If you’ve been procrastinating . . . or are just “stuck” on implementing the STEP program . . . I would highly recommend the 4W2F (Four Weeks to Finished) program. (No, I haven’t “arrived” yet . . . I still have a long ways to go . . . but 4W2F has given me “a light at the end of the tunnel,” that, as Eric said, “Isn’t a train coming towards me.”)
I know 4W2F is pricy . . . but so are disorganization and clutter and overwhelm. One is a financial price . . . the other is an emotional price . . . that can become financial (in addition to emotional) when it winds you up in a doctor’s office! (And insurance doesn’t pay for everything!)
For years, I have struggled with exhaustion. No doctor could ever give me any “reason” for it. They wanted to prescribe medication “to help you sleep” (which I’ve never taken, because medication can only mask symptoms, it never fixes the problem . . . and medication always has side effects, even if those side effects are not traced back to the sleeping medication).
After working through 4W2F this fall, I suspect the root cause of my exhaustion is all the clutter and total disorganization of my home.
As I said, I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there. I still don’t have my Command Central completely set up and functional. I’m still struggling with Weekly Reviews. (OK, I haven’t done any yet.) But I’m making progress that way. And I’m light years ahead of where I would be if I hadn’t gone through 4W2F.
I actually had a “Current Projects” list (that made sense!) for September posted on the wall above my computer. And everything on the list got done (though some of it bled into October / November a little.) Current Project lists didn’t happen for October and November . . . but I created one for December this morning . . . and it looks very “doable.” I anticipate getting through it early in the month, and adding in more projects.
Another “Win” directly tied to 4W2F . . .
We had a bunch of stuff that needed to go to our daughter in another state. When she suggested we bring it to her this fall, my immediate reaction was, NO WAY can I get it all pulled together in the time frame she was suggesting. But then I thought, “Wait. That’s the “old me” talking nonsense. With God’s help, I CAN do this.” I put it on my September Current Project List . . . and IT GOT DONE (even though it was the first weekend in November before we were able to make the trip). It is wonderful to have all that stuff out of my house, and out of my life.
There is still a LOT more “stuff” that needs to be done . . . but, with God’s help, it WILL happen. Eventually.
April Perry says
Kathy, I can’t even tell you how happy I am for you! I LOVE that you are making such amazing progress, and I truly can’t wait to hear how you feel as you continue to clear the clutter and overwhelm. I had a very similar issue 20+ years ago. I was tired all the time and didn’t know what was wrong with me. It turned out I needed some kind of “order” in my brain to help me see I was progressing. Thank you for your beautiful testimonial about Four Weeks to Finished, as well! It is a gift to be able to work with incredible people like you!
I love seeing your two lists side by side, and feel like I have been on a similar journey myself in the past few years, and yes it is so releasing to transition to a “becomer”! And I do feel like LearnDoBecome and also the general attitude and atmosphere with which you present things, has contributed to that also, so thank you 🙂 Keep growing in grace!
Truly revelatory for me, April! Thank you for sharing what’s in your heart and what you’re learning as you go. I printed that and I’m going to journal this!
Jen Bessire says
I really like this. It makes me think of the comparison and contrast between the natural man and the spiritual. We can go after results that are easy to see and measure and get socially rewarded, or we can strive for continual progression and growth (which isn’t very exciting and is harder to measure). But yes, “becoming” is much more fulfilling and satisfying overall in the long run, I think.
Thank you April! I am a failed Achiever. I kept failing and then I gave up. But I feel striving to become is something I can do.
Thank you SO MUCH for this! I printed it out and am making tiny changes. I’m calling the Becoming column “Striving” (because I feel like I’m always striving and never reaching anything satisfying) and the other column I’ve renamed “Living Life Richly and Fully,” because it just motivates me and makes me happy. I also added “Recognizes progress” to the Becoming side. I rarely do that and it feels so good when I do!
I also felt SO relaxed when I heard you read the Becoming side. Just lovely.
Thank you so much!
April Perry says
So happy to hear this, Heather! Love the names you came up with for the columns. xoxo