The fifth and final year of my doctoral program consists of an intensive clinical internship. That means I spent the beginning of this year, my fourth, preoccupied with the application process. Fifteen sites, fifteen cover letters, four essays, three letters of recommendation—the list goes on. Only when the process ended at the beginning of November did I realize how stressed I’d been. (more…)
Did you know you might be a perfectionist if you are a “non-starter?”
We talked about this in the Rediscover You workshop I attended this weekend, led by Monica Packer. Monica Packer is an entrepreneur who started out by overcoming her own perfectionism, which led her to use her new-found freedom and voice to create a popular podcast called About Progress, among other successful pursuits. Monica is about empowering people to overcome perfectionism and the barriers that stand in the way of their progress. I really enjoyed being inspired by Monica and connecting with a community of “fellow Progressors.”
So back to this non-starter point. I consider myself a recovering perfectionist. When I got tickets to this workshop, I honestly didn’t think I “needed” it as I believed I had completely out grown my perfectionism. I was really going for networking purposes. I honestly see myself as an evangelist for “embracing our humanity” and take pride in the lessons we can learn from allowing ourselves to be messy, imperfect humans.
But this non-starter point struck me…hard. This describes me in a lot of ways. The story I’ve been telling myself for years is that my life is too chaotic with little kids for me to step more fully into my dreams and ambitions. I feel protective of my role and time as a mom and have built some good boundaries that allow me to be pretty active in my children’s life while also working part-time. This feels like a personal truth, not just a story.
But what is also true, is that I want more for myself. I have visions of where I want to take my career and how I want to more effectively help people on their own journeys. Each year I witness myself downshifting more of this side of me to create more space for my family’s needs.
While it is important to me to do my very best to meet my children’s needs, I also know it is important to honor my own. If I don’t meet my own needs, I won’t have the reserves or capacity to be there for my family the way I want to. Each year I watch more and more of important parts of me disappear and I’ve begun to wonder if they’ll disappear completely?
But I never considered that an underlying process to this was perfectionism showing up in a new way. Because the dreams I have feel BIG and SCARY. It feels vulnerable to even acknowledge them to myself. It’s only been recently that I’ve been more open with close friends and colleagues about my dreams. But because I have this big wish, the fear of failure looms large. Immediately an inner-asshole-voice shouts, “Who the hell do you think you are?”
But Monica shared a very helpful perspective for me to digest: I am focusing too much on the outcome. Monica said, “It’s so much easier to become a martyr than to become the hero, who fails frequently, of my own story.” It so much safer to just let myself get caught up in the busyness of life and not start making the progress I want. She pointed out that a difference between a Progressor Mindset and perfectionism is that self-worth isn’t dependent on the outcome. A Progressor roots their values and mindset in grit, determination, discipline and passion, recognizing that the power and growth is in the trying.
As part of the workshop, I created a bit of an action plan to move forward with my dreams. This felt like a step in an important direction for me. I commit to continuing to lean into this so I won’t be a martyr of my own story or let perfectionism hurt my life again. I know this will require balance and mindfulness with my other roles, but I am excited about the passion, growth, and re-connection with myself that awaits!
Last month (October) is Infant loss awareness month. This is specifically relevant to me as I lost my son to SIDS, seven years ago. Each October 15th, people across the nation, hold a special remembrance for the babies they lost. One way we do this is through a national “Wave of light.” At 7pm, families light a candle in memory of their lost babies and keep the candle lit for an hour. I find the imagery of this “Wave of light” moving across the nation to be very touching. I love lighting a candle for my son and taking time to think of him, while also feeling connected to a greater community of grieving parents. (more…)
I had an experience nearly 20 years ago that I have reflected on over the years again and again. Have you ever had a moment in life that’s almost bookmarked in your brain, something you revisit and consider during different stages of your life? (more…)
Starting at the beginning of this month I have been writing down three things that I am thankful for everyday. I didn’t have all these amazing reasons of why I started, I just started writing in hopes to jumpstart the holiday spirit in my life. (And yes, I am one that starts listening to Christmas music and watching Hallmark Christmas movies in October).
Also, in the back of my mind, I knew that I had read several articles listing the benefits of doing so and I thought “why not test it out?” My goal is to write 3 things that I am thankful for each day. My standard for the items I write down isn’t high, I just want to get something down on paper EVERYDAY; consistency is key.
Each morning I write in the corner of my journal/planner “I am thankful for…” Doing that each morning just sets my focus to look for things that are good in my life. Some of the things I have written down include “crockpots” “cozy socks” and “the gym” just to name a few. These are not earth shattering items that should make me jump for joy, but just recognizing small highlights each day has definitely increased my positivity.
I had a crazy week of taking care of two family members and I was starting to feel stretched. I was bringing dinner to two different houses, other than my own, and was not feeling all that positive. When the power went out as I was leaving the house for work, I realized that my dinner would not cook and so I called an audible and dumped everything in my crock pot and brought it to work to cook for 8 hours. Instead of looking at the inconveniences of my day, I looked at the positive. I was thankful for crock pots, especially the kind that have a lid that locks to prevent spillage.
Do you have that one thing that just makes you feel like you have your sh*t together? Maybe it’s when your nails are done? Or when your laundry is washed, dried, and put away all in the same day? Or when your bed is made prior to you walking out the door? Whatever that “thing” is that makes you feel put together, writing a few things down each day that you are thankful for can give you that feeling that you have it altogether. When I feel like I have it together, I tend to hold my head a little higher.
I feel like my confidence wanes when I compare what I have to others. I look at what I don’t have and immediately feel less than. So-and-so has a pinterest-esque house. So-and-so has the cutest family. So-and-so has this and that; it can go on forever. BUT, since I have been writing my thankful three each day I have been busy looking for all the things that I do have in my life that I haven’t paid much attention to what I’m lacking. That doesn’t mean that I never compare myself, but it has lessened this month and my confidence has increased because of it.
Raise your hand if you are the person that lays down at night and starts to list the to dos and/or list what didn’t get checked off that day and has a hard time falling asleep because your mind won’t turn off. Well put that hand down and maybe try taking a few minutes before bed to jot down a few goods you have in your life. Instead of thinking of what you need to do, your mind is being directed toward things that you are grateful for. This can help settle that mind of yours, instead of ramping it up, so that you can get some sleep!
I used to be a list maker prior to heading off to bed in hopes that it would set me up for the next day, but I’ve learned writing my thankful three and reading a few chapters is the best sleep routine for me.
Three things a day. Just give it a try for one month and see if your positivity, confidence, and sleep are boosted. Each morning make a note to think about people, events, food, etc. that you are thankful for and finish your day off with writing what has come to mind. Maybe this will help jumpstart your holiday spirit?
A college cross country teammate of mine once said, “You either die on the track or live long enough to see yourself run hundreds of miles on trails.” In our college town of Ashland, OR, it was easy to understand why. The city boasts beautiful, smooth mountain trails. It’s a mecca for runners all over the country. (more…)
Recently I joined my school’s Air Force ROTC program. For those of you who don’t know, the ROTC is a program that allows University students to get their degree while training to eventually commission as an officer in the military. I’ve always thought about military service and looked up to those who have served or are currently serving. Now, I’ve finally decided to take a leap of faith and try it for myself. (more…)
I had the unusual experience last week of coming across the same unfamiliar concept while reading two unrelated books! It was enough to make me pause- and get curious- and want to explore more about the concept I hadn’t even heard of before the week started. (more…)