Do you ever feel like you’re not accomplishing everything that you want to get done?
On my 16th birthday, I ran into my bedroom, closed the door and cried for an hour.
I thought I had turned 16 and had not accomplished anything in my life. Seriously. True story. I remember it so vividly. In retrospect, that notion seemed ridiculous. I was only 16. I was very young. Then again, similar thoughts ran across my mind when I turned 18, 21, etc. With any milestone birthday, it is natural to start thinking about your accomplishments or lack of accomplishments.
Do you ever feel like you’re not doing enough with your life?
Even the most accomplished people can fall into this trap of feeling like a failure. Maybe not everyone sits in a corner and cries about it but the feeling is commonplace. Goals and the desire to accomplish great things in life is not a bad thing on its own. For the most past, it’s a positive thing. Our world would not be where it is today if we didn’t have people who achieved great things. However, if we become consumed by feelings of failure and not accomplishing enough on a regular basis, this can lead to unhealthy thoughts.
Through experience and an attitude change, I have been able to keep those negative feelings at bay. It doesn’t mean every day I wake up feeling like a sensational success but I am able to move forward with my life and goals in a healthy manner. Here are some helpful tips to help you overcome those feelings of inadequacy.
1. Make a list of things you have accomplished.
Oftentimes we forget our successes and we probably have done more than we realize. A visual reminder of these accomplishments can do wonders for one’s confidence. Write down even the small accomplishments or things you might take for granted like graduating from high school or owning a car. Write it on a piece of paper and post it on your wall. When you see all the things you have actually done, you won’t ever say “I haven’t accomplished anything.”
Another great way to reflect on your life is writing your bio. When I feel like I’m not accomplishing enough, I will go to my website and read my bio again. It refreshes my memory that there have been significant achievements in my life and career.
2. Don’t compare yourself to other people.
Those feelings of not accomplishing enough are almost always tied to measuring yourself against others. The reality is that there will always be someone more successful than you, who makes more money than you, who is better looking than you and so on and so forth. Letting envy rear its ugly head is unhealthy and detracts from your own accomplishments. Remember that your journey in life is unique and that you should not be defined by other people’s success. You can spend a lifetime trying to top someone else’s accomplishments and never take the time to appreciate your own.
3. Count your blessings.
The other side of the coin is that there will always be someone else who is worse off than you. Someone else is less successful than you, makes less money than you and so on and so forth. I know I just said “don’t compare yourself to other people” but this type of comparison is about gaining some perspective on your own situation. That doesn’t mean you should develop an air of superiority and get a big head thinking about all your accomplishments. It’s not about thinking you’re better than other people. It’s about remembering what really matters in life. For instance, if the things you want to accomplish are career or financially measured, they don’t seem very important if you have a friend who is battling cancer or a neighbor who lost a parent. For some people, taking a breath of fresh air each day is a huge accomplishment.
Make it a habit to be thankful each day. Gratitude is a great weapon to defeat discontentment.
4. Have an ultimate cheerleader in your life.
You may have friends and family members that may be the hard to please types. This may be a huge source of your feelings of inadequacy. If you listen to them long enough and are surrounded by their negatively, it’s only natural that you buy into anything critical they are saying about you.
Have at least one friend that is your ultimate cheerleader. We all need that person that will say “I’m proud of you! You’re doing great! I believe in you!” That affirmation is your lifeline. We all need that person who will always see the silver lining and tell us that the cup is half full. When you start getting down on yourself, that person reminds you of all your accomplishments and encourages the heck out of you. They will write you notes, send you texts with positive emoji and give you a pat on the back.
Do not underestimate the power of moral support. It’s important to have that friend who will ask you how you’re doing and make sure you don’t relapse into thinking you’re a failure. This requires you to be somewhat vulnerable in sharing your struggles and feelings of self-doubt. If you don’t have a cheerleader in your life, you might need to make some new friends so you can find one.
5. Focus your energy on helping others.
We live in a “me first” society and that can breed dissatisfaction when we don’t get what we want. When you turn attention away from yourself, you won’t dwell on what you feel are your own shortcomings. I find this principle to be the most helpful and tangible to practice. Mentor someone or volunteer with a local non-profit. Find other ways to help people who are starting out or are in need. Instead of asking “what can I do to advance my own goals?” try asking “what can I do to help someone else with their goals?” It will remind you that you have much to offer to the world.
Keeping these things in mind will go a long way to helping you get over that “accomplishment” arms race. Life is not a competition though some people will have you believe that. It can be a lifelong process to keep from thinking you are not doing enough in your life. We shouldn’t be lazy and unproductive by any means. Working hard and having goals is a good thing. However, it can be a lonely, paralyzing place to be if you constantly feel like you’re a failure and have done nothing of significance. A crisis of confidence will prevent you from living life to your fullest potential.
I leave you with some lyrics to a song I wrote called “Paralyzed” that best expresses my feelings on this topic. Whenever that 16 year old overachiever in me starts to emerge again, I think of this song. I hope these words will encourage you to move past any feelings of inadequacy you have.
Don’t want to finish last
Failure haunting me
Life passing by too fast
Not being all that I could be
Fighting to move on
Facing fears until they’re gone
I no longer want to be paralyzed
I refuse to be paralyzed