Version of my Former Self

Posted by Stacey Brown Randall

I’m not sure what it was about the encounter I had recently that made the version of my former self rise up but I had to give it a smack down or it would have unraveled all the work I have done on myself over the years. I used to be happy workaholic…if there is such a thing. I used to find pride in touting all the hours I worked, feeling smug knowing I sent the last email my boss would receive that night or the earliest email my boss would receive in the morning. I found purpose and satisfaction in working hard, over-achieving and trying to out-do those around me. I wore my badge proudly.

But six years ago I figured out there is more to life than being “the hardest worker” and took stock of my life and my priorities. It was hard. I’m sure I pouted through some of it. But I went through training and sought wise teachers and authors to show me the way.

The part of me I was trying to let go of was the side of me that found satisfaction in being able to keep score with those other “hardest workers” around me. So my emotional reaction to the encounter with someone I don’t know well took me by surprise. As she talked about her successes, her sacrifices and her crazy busy schedule…I almost felt the need to participate in the banter. But if I had participated she would have wondered why I bothered because my world doesn’t look anything like her crazy busy life. Of course the irony is not lost on me either…every day I help people break free from the ‘hardest worker satisfaction game’ and help them find ways to release their workaholic selves.

I know my life is pretty much in control. I know my sweet spot – exactly what I can manage without stressing out or knowing when I am doing too little and risk being bored (which has the greatest impact on my ability to be productive). And I am getting really good at identifying my sweet spot markers…those points that alert me to tipping into a danger zone. For example, I was recently asked to consider chairing a committee and I knew instantly to listen to the voice stirring inside me that was yelling ‘heck no, absolutely not, it is just not the right time.’

As a society we compare ourselves to others…we ask ourselves “is where you are where I am supposed to be?” Thankfully the answer is no.

Maybe my old version of self is your current version. Don’t despair. First you need to be okay with not running the rat race which means you need to do work on yourself first. Then surround yourself with others not interested in playing the “crazy busy life” or “hardest worker” game. It is not easy…slipping into your default mode of comparison is a tough habit to break. But knowing that – on most days – when someone goes on and on about how busy they are, I can smile and be thankful that isn’t my reality. But this latest encounter was a good reminder that my work isn’t done.

Here’s to your best productive self!

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