I had an interesting realisation this week.
It happened while I was at a shopping centre with some friends. I don’t believe in shopping, and so while my friends were (genuinely) browsing handbags, I sat in a cafe to do some writing for upcoming projects.
I managed a few solid hours of work, but thanks to the copious amounts of coffee I’d consumed, I needed a session in the little boys’ room afterwards. As I sat down to do my business, I felt a general undercurrent of dissatisfaction:
urgh I didn’t manage to do enough writing today, I could’ve done more
I didn’t give this feeling a second thought, because this is my default state. I often over-promise to myself and under-deliver, and therefore in the evenings I almost always feel a sense of “I wasn’t productive enough today”. This feeling has become so normal that I often don’t even realise it’s there.
But as I turned on my phone and opened up Instapaper to browse some blog posts that I’d saved earlier, I came across one by Neel Nanda called Your Standards are Too High
It opens with the following:
I’m a perfectionist, and a pretty neurotic person, so a common experience for me is feeling dissatisfied and guilty. Some part of me is deeply convinced that everything should be easy, and fast. That if it’s not, I am failing. That I could have done better.
Damn. That’s exactly me too. And I’m sure it’s a lot of you reading this.
Reading through Neel’s post made me realise (a) that my default state seems to be dissatisfaction-with-how-much-I-did-that-day and (b) that this doesn’t have to be the case.
I realised that I’d been looking at my work for those past few hours with a lens of not-good-enough. And that I could simply choose to change the lens, to change the story I was telling myself. I could choose to feel satisfied with what I’d done.
And so having realised this, for the rest of the day I had more of a spring in my step because I chose to think ‘you know what, that was a good day’s work, you’ve done well Ali’.
At the end of the day, the amount of work done didn’t change. But how I felt about it did. And that’s an idea worth sharing, as they say.
Have a great week!