In my eight years as a freelance writer, my goal was to wow every editor I worked with. I prided myself on turning in extremely clean copy that typically needed little editing. Basically, I wanted to be a dream to work with.
No pressure there, right? Noooooo. None at all. =)
I mean, yes, my intentions were honorable. I wanted to do a good job. But it went further than that. On some level, I needed to do a good job. Desperately. Because being insanely responsive and delivering pristine copy was how I proved my value to myself. It was how I justified being able to make a living doing something I loved, that so many people thought was impossible to do, and to do it out of my home while wearing sweats. If I didn’t knock it out of the park every time, I just felt so danged unworthy.
And it took a big toll on me – long hours re-working every paragraph and making sure I replied to emails within a few hours. Not a lot of work-life balance there. It also kept me painted in a pretty tight corner, as pitching articles on new-to-me subjects was dicey—what if I couldn’t deliver? So I wrote the same types of pieces over and over, in total opposition to my variety-loving nature, which made the work seem even more taxing.
And I know I’m not the only one. I see so many women knocking themselves out to do a good job. Not because they want to, but because they need to. Because they feel kinda worthless if they don’t.
There is a mom at my son’s preschool who is trying so hard to be a kind, loving, and patient mom that it makes my heart hurt just to look at her. I just want to say to her, “It’s OK. You can ease up and it will be fine. In fact, it will be way better than it is now.”
Because here’s what I’ve learned about trying too hard—it binds you up, wears you out, inhibits you. Which then, ironically, causes you to do less-than-great work. Even when you do great work, it doesn’t feel great, because you’re only as good as your last accomplishment, and there’s always a big long list of other things to get done. There’s no satisfaction. No rest. No peace.
If anything I’m writing about is resonating with you, join me for a virtual, no-cost talk next week:
The Beauty of Being a B-Minus: How Trying Less Hard Empowers You to Do Greater Things with More Fun, Ease & Success
Date: Wednesday, September 17
Time: 12:30 pm ET / 11:30 am CT / 10:30 am MT / 9:30 am PT
Duration: 30 minutes
I’m going to share as much as I can fit in to 30 minutes about how to ease up on your own expectations so you get more done with less effort, and feel great at every step along the way. Hope to “see” you there!
(And if you know someone who’s trying harder than she needs to, please share this with her and invite her to attend with you!)