Have a quick think back over the past week.
Did you enjoy some gorgeous relaxing time just for you?
Connect with family and friends to open up about how you’re really doing?
Feel supported by people around you handling the responsibilities that were too much for you to take care of?
I’ll wait while you finish laughing…
I’m guessing it’s far more likely you were doing the usual juggle of meeting deadlines, putting out fires, and being the rock for everyone else around you too.
Why letting go is such a challenge
A few weeks ago I had a really juicy conversation with some of the ladies on our Lead the Change program, all about our tendency as high achievers to continually raise our expectations. So if you’re someone who’s dangerously competent, and often tend to feel like you’re doing a crap job of managing everything – read on.
How to tell if you’re a high achiever
Now before your inner critic pipes up about all the ways you’re NOT achieving highly in X, Y or Z area of your life – let me be clear.
Much as most perfectionists never think of themselves as perfect, you might well be someone who focuses on everything you don’t achieve rather than all you do.
But let’s take a minute to reflect.
For starters, the global pandemic has turned all of our lives upside down. And yet, almost no one I know is giving themselves the slightest bit of leeway to account for that.
If you’re even just maintaining the same level of achievement as you were before COVID-19 hit – I would say you’re a high achiever.
Because you’re also doing all your own emotional processing.
And holding everyone else around you (Your family, friends, colleagues, clients…) who are ALSO dealing with that impact.
Many of us have dug deep to resource ourselves and build our resilience during this time.
And yet when we gain that extra resilience – or discover how we can be more effective, or start to lead in a different way – what do we do?
We raise our expectations.
And fuel a vicious circle of becoming more proficient – expecting more – getting overwhelmed – learning new tools – and so on.
So what can you do when it comes to letting go?
When you have high standards for yourself and others, letting go can be one of the biggest challenges you face.
But the reality is, all of us only have capacity to do so much.
Yes, our dreams and desires are limitless. You’ve probably seen plenty of social media memes telling you to “dream big” and “expand what’s possible”.
But there are still 24 hours in a day. You still have a physical body, with finite reserves of energy and concentration.
Whether you’re dealing with BIG stresses, or just juggling four thousand small responsibilities, everything that’s on your plate right now taxes your energy and demands your time.
The first step is to take a step back and acknowledge everything you’re doing.
Take ten minutes and write down as much as you can of what you’re juggling.
Next, ask yourself these questions.
- What are your biggest priorities?
- What absolutely cannot be done by anyone else?
- Who in your world could help you out and take something off your plate?
Why we find it so hard to let things go
Now, if you’re experiencing a level of resistance to this exercise, you might be thinking something like this:
There’s no way my partner could do that as well as me. They just don’t have the empathy.
I couldn’t ask my boss for help. She’ll think I’m a total incompetent.
How could I tell my friend I can’t help her? She’ll feel so let down.
And you know what? These are totally valid thoughts! It may well be true that your partner wouldn’t do as good a job as you at finding a new house. Or that your boss would be less than happy if you announced you couldn’t deliver the extra piece of work to the new deadline.
But the truth is, it’s not in anyone’s interests for you to collapse under the weight of all your responsibilities.
Taking care of yourself might mean disappointing some people in the short term.
Having a tough conversation. Being vulnerable. Lowering your standards on things that aren’t actually all that important (hello, tody house!).
In the long term – it will allow you to continue to contribute to everything you’re doing, in a way that’s actually sustainable.
When the biggest pressure comes from us
What’s more, the person we’re often most worried about letting down is us.
I’m reminded of this hilarious post by Glennon Doyle on Instagram last year – giving advice to parents who were worried about the amount of screen time their kids were getting during the pandemic.
My friend called last night. Her 4 year old son was screaming, just screaming.
She says: My life is hell right now. I’m trying to work and the only time I get a moment of peace I get all day and night is during TV Time.
I say: Wait. Stop Did you just say the words: TV TIME? WHAT DO YOU MEAN “TV TIME?” Parents, Listen to me and listen good: “TV TIME” is for PEACE TIMES.
You know what “TV TIME” is during the corona? TV time is ALLLL THE TIMES. ALL THE TIMES. ALL. .
You know I love you and I always try to be gentle — but this: MOM SHAMING YOURSELF DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC IS WHERE I MUST DRAW THE LINE.
Where do you need to draw the line?
Is it cooking from scratch every night? Maintaining your revenue goals, despite the impact on your team? Or some other area of your life that – in the grand scheme of things – isn’t critically important.
Supporting high achievers with letting go
If you’re working with high achievers (the One of many team can totally relate to this!) then you might be seeing this syndrome from another perspective.
You clients, or team, might be telling you they need stretching, challenging.
Perhaps you’ve got a client who thinks she’s letting herself off the hook and needs to set some bigger goals.
Or your friend is exhausted – and reckons training for her first triathlon could be what gives her the energy she needs.
It takes a lot of discernment to know when to challenge someone who thinks they need to be doing more to rest instead. If you’d like some skills to help you do that, we have a one day training happening soon to teach you how to do just that.
You’ll find out how the Women’s PowerTypes can help you lead more powerfully; learn practical listening skills; and connect with likeminded women from around the world.
What do you think?
Do you recognise this happening in your world – or is there someone in your life who could do with giving themselves a break? I’d love to know – leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation!
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