I have always put additional pressure on myself, even as a little kid. When I was five years old, I wanted to get top marks in my school tests (which I think pretty normal for a South Asian kid anywhere in the world!…). In high school, I wanted to get straight As. In university, I wanted to get high distinctions and land a great job. At my ‘great’ job, I wanted to be the superstar. With worry, stress and pressure, I managed to do it. But. It was exhausting – I got burned out after my time in Hong Kong and came home. I was at peace for a while. I was content and found a job where I didn’t have to put too much pressure on myself. I took a little breather.
But the need to achieve is ingrained in me and it didn’t take long to kick back up again. I started wanting to over achieve like I had been doing all my life. I wanted to be the best in my job, the best at my pole dancing class, the best girlfriend, the best daughter and the best friend anyone could ask for. I wanted to please everyone else – and maybe myself too. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone including me.
But looking back, I realised that it’s only when I take the additional pressure off myself that I do really well. Often during many times in my life, I set myself a goal and get so worked up at wanting to achieve it and work hard but also stress and worry really hard too. They say a little stress and worry are necessary to add fuel and fire to achieving your goal, but too much stress and worry can be counterproductive. I can’t sleep well and my immune system weakens so I get sick and have to fight even harder.
This year has been especially gruelling with lots of worry and stress. My work load and hours literally doubled at the start of the year. Things have quietened down a little bit since, but I am still incredibly busy with lots of work, outside of work commitments and family obligations as well – mine and my boyfriend’s. Not to mention that Christmas/NY is just around the corner with its own pressures.
I had a big presentation in front of a lot of people and I stressed and worried about it for TWO days beforehand. As a result, I was nervous and spoke too fast and read from my notes far too much for my liking. All the Toastmasters training had flown out the door.
So afterwards, I analysed why I hadn’t performed as well as I wanted to. And I realised, it’s because I have this BIG goal of moving very far up on the corporate ladder in 20 years time, and wanted to show all my current managers that I had the skills to do so. I wanted them to be impressed with my public speaking skills now for a goal later. A goal that may actually never be realised, because who knows what could happen in 20 years? Plus, the likelihood of me working for any of my current bosses in 20 years time is slim to none. It seemed so silly to have such a big goal and aspiration in my head and put all this pressure on one little presentation.
So, I decided that I was going to take the additional pressure off myself. The pressure to over achieve. The pressure to succeed. The pressure to be the best. It’s exhausting and I don’t have the energy for it at the moment.
I decided instead, to take each day at a time.
A few days later, I had another big presentation. I forced myself to not think about it. I practiced what I was going to say, but I told myself that I would live in the moment and go into the presentation with the simple goal of informing the audience to give them the information they needed to make a decision.
Guess what happened?! I was relaxed, calm and focused. It was easy and actually – fun!
So here is my plan for the next 2 months – I’m going to take the additional pressure off and enjoy the remainder of the year.
I’m going to do my very best at work.
I will…. stay focussed, take pride in my work and tackle each task to the best of my ability. I will learn new skills and ideas and concepts as I work.
But I won’t… compare myself to my peers or beat myself up for small mistakes I make when I am over loaded.
Instead, I’ll reward myself for being focussed and continuing to learn and grow in my job.
I’m going to do my best at my dancing classes.
I will.. learn new tricks and choreography and enjoy putting them all together, and laughing along with the other girls in the class.
But I won’t… compare myself to them or beat myself up for missing a bit of the choreography or not pointing my toes during a tricky move.
Instead, I’ll pat myself on the back for having a go and keeping fit!
I’m going to eat healthily and exercise when I can.
I will… eat 5 small meals a day – 3 slightly bigger meals and 2 healthy snacks. But on a Friday night, I might have a nice Thai takeaway. If my boyfriend and I go out to dinner, I may enjoy a delicious carb-heavy pasta. I’ll try to go for a walk at lunchtime but only if I have time.
But I won’t… feel guilty or beat myself up for eating more calories than I should. I won’t beat myself up for not being able to go out for a walk and wanting to read my book in the sun instead.
Instead I will be perfectly content and grateful for the body I have been given and the abundance of fresh food and exercise classes afforded to me.
I’m going to speak to my friends when I have time.
I will… message my friends back when I can.
I won’t…. beat myself up and call myself a bad friend if I can’t message them straight away.
Instead, I will be grateful for having friends who live busy lives like me and know that even though I’m far away, I will always be there for them – and they will always be there for me.
I’m going to blog when I can.
I will… write, pour my heart out and take photos only when I feel the creative energy buzzing in me.
I won’t… create posts just because I haven’t posted in a while. I won’t be disappointed in myself if I can’t attend a cool blogger event or if I haven’t posted in a while.
Instead I will be grateful for having two little pieces of the internet to pour my heart and soul into, and to share my thoughts, ideas and recommendations with the world.
I’m going to stop putting all that pressure on myself to do well at all avenues of life. I have to – otherwise I’m going to burn out all over again. And frankly, I have lived far too much of this year in a pressure pot. So I’m stepping out – for 2 months at least!
Are you going to take the pressure off yourself too?