Here are 5 questions to ask yourself:
Do you feel like something is missing from your life, but can’t quite identify what it is?
Do you hope that the next raise or bonus will make you feel better, only to find out that it only brings temporary relief?
Have you hit that high-title job status...and you’re still not happy?
Are you stuck in survival mode, too busy to put yourself first?
Do you wonder if there must be something wrong with you and worry that you’ll never be satisfied?
If you answered yes, or even felt a “maybe” to one of all of these questions,
You are likely a high achiever.
This doesn’t mean you’re a major stress case, in fact, maybe you’re doing okay, but you still feel as if there should be something more.
I am a high achiever, and not so long ago, I answered yes to all of those questions.
I felt like something was missing. Big time. I had no idea what it is was or how to get it.
I wanted more money to make it better. Instead, the more money I made, the less awesome I felt. Each money goal I achieved put a spotlight on the reality that the money couldn’t fill the void or make my life better internally.
I had the job I always wanted and was the least happy I’d ever been. At the height of my career, managing a business unit with high visibility, where I thought I always wanted to be, making more money than I ever had, I was miserable.
I was stuck in the loop of doing, rarely taking the time out to put myself first.
As strange as it may sound, I didn’t know how to put myself first. It was a foreign concept. I would feel guilty when I attempted to, as if taking the time for me was exceedingly self-indulgent.
I worried that something was fundamentally wrong with me. I had everything I wanted but was so unsatisfied. It made no sense to me why I was restless and unfulfilled. I thought, “I’m damaged in some fundamental way. Why can’t I be happy?”
If any of this sounds familiar to you, take heart. There’s nothing wrong with you. But your bar is too freaking low when it comes to what you expect for YOU. You can be amazing and wondrous and a force to behold professionally and simultaneously ignore who you are as a human, continuing to expect your professional success to magically create feelings of excitement, inspiration, fulfillment, [insert favorite word here].
High-achievers come to a place of stagnation because survival is good enough. You rarely tip the balance into truly experiencing your life more often than not. You grind it out. To want more is unrealistic and perhaps even silly. After all, this is what your parents did and your friends do now.
Suck it up, buttercup. Maybe buy an expensive toy or take an extravagant trip to fill the void. Deal with it and settle in. This is your life.
When I examined my own experience, I realized that though the circumstances of our lives varied, many of my coworkers felt similarly to me. They had it “all”, but it didn’t feel like much. They were exhausted, put upon, bored, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, stressed out, running on fumes, irritable, frustrated–the list goes on. Oddly, it reassured me that I wasn’t alone. Not in a misery-loves-company kind of way, but in a way that sparked the thought that we all shared something in common that could be identified with the right tools, if I could find them.
I did some research and decided to start by reading self-help books. I scanned summaries, looked at reviews, and ultimately decided to begin with books that had a more spiritual bent because every business-oriented book out there felt much too “corporate” and formulaic to me. I made progress. Each book had something valuable and insightful to offer that would move me a few steps forward, but ultimately I would get stuck again. The way I operated was so ingrained and embedded that getting my brain to think in new ways was harder than I anticipated.
I kept at it. It took time and energy, trial and error. Now it’s my mission to share what I’ve learned with other high achievers so you can do the work with guidance and clarity around what to do and why.
As successful as you are, you can’t take your life to the next level without doing the deep work to transform the way you see yourself and raise the bar for what you expect from life.
The way you live has been dictated from the outside with little to no input from you. How can you possibly expect fulfillment if what you want isn’t at the heart of all you do?
How to begin? As you go through your day, pay attention to your mental chatter. Do you find yourself saying "“I’ll be okay,” “It will be fine,” “I’m alright” or other words that suggest you are settling? Write it down. The only thing you need to do right now is be aware. It can be very uncomfortable to admit consciously, but it’s the first and necessary step in the direction of living a life that’s aligned to you.
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