Can I escape over-achievement hell?

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I’d like to start this post by stating that I don’t have an answer to this question. It is going to require time, patience, and persistent experimentation.

Having been born in 1983, I am on the older side of the Millennial generation. According to The Balance Careers, we have various characteristics in common, including being team-oriented, hungry for feedback, and having a strong drive to achieve and succeed. While these are great qualities, many of us have or are experiencing feelings of burning out.

I have always been a driven, goal-oriented person. The past 3+ years I have carried a calendar book with me, my feelings of pride toward my productivity and organizational skills mixed with a growing sense of suffocation and rigidity. This book guides me during busy times and I have used it to continue to push forward in times of chaos when rest may have better served me.

Around two years ago, I began seriously questioning the purpose of tasks I loaded onto my to-do list. The urge to do less became an idea that I began obsessing over. But before I could do less I felt I had to continue doing more, whether it be making alternate career decisions, committing to college, ideas, and plans. In my mind, I need to achieve more to ‘earn’ the right to do less, which is backwards. Rest does not need to be earned – it should be considered a right. Anne Helen Peterson, in her article entitled “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation“, she states: “…[I]’ve internalized the idea that I should be working all the time.” Me too, girl.

Can I slow down? Can I change? Can I increase my happiness and decrease my to-do list after a lifetime of this tiring, overly-productive personality trait?

I am going to try and seek the answer to these questions. My first step is to begin putting less on my daily to-do list, using it to only keep track of important appointments, dates, and my weekly workouts as opposed to a [stifling] list of tasks and goals. Maybe this book has done more harm than good, but until time has passed and I have had a chance to reflect I will not know. I will be sure to share my findings here in the future.


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