There is a common theme among many of the clients my team and I have been coaching lately: failing to measure up to unrealistic expectations.
Of course, these expectations are a product of our own beliefs about how to succeed (or even survive) in today's economically challenged, competitive landscape. We tell ourselves that we have to finish every day with an inbox that is empty of emails and a desk that is clear of paperwork. We have to answer all voicemails within 24 hours and complete the many items on our to-do list. We have to multi-task while maintaining a laser focus on the details. We have to impress our existing clients and chase after new ones so that next year's revenues surpass this year's by a significant margin.
If we don't manage to do all of this, we tell ourselves that we're failures. We beat ourselves up for our inability to keep up. We convince ourselves that we'll never get ahead.
It's enough to reduce us all to overstressed workaholics.
If you can relate, here are a few things to remember:
- You're doing your best. If you are not satisfied with your current results, seek out learning opportunities so that your best gets better.
- Beating yourself up only slows you down. You aren't going to inspire peak performance if all you grant yourself is negative reinforcement.
- Your impatience accomplishes nothing (except anxiety). The most successful people I know went through an evolution that took many years. Give it time.
So, rather than berate yourself for falling short of some impossible ideal, establish a specific, reasonable target for yourself at the beginning of every day. Redefine success as a measure of your ability to accomplish achievable goals and trust that it's sufficient.