Anyone else feel as though we are living in a constant state of judgment? Show of hands, please.
We all do it—if not all the time, then certainly here and there—compare, contrast, pick ourselves apart.
Do I try hard enough? Am I present enough? Did I “woulda-coulda-shoulda” enough?
The question is not whether we judge ourselves, but rather it’s a question of whose standard we’re measuring ourselves against.
Is it our mother’s? Our spouse’s? Our “perfect” sibling’s or boss’? Perhaps it’s the neighbor with the great house, manicured lawn and new car in the garage. Or maybe the artificial, stylized ideal we see staring back at us from Facebook or a magazine .
But when we really stop and think about whose standard matters most—it’s our own, of course.
When I realized that my definition and measurement of success was best based on my own unique set of priorities and values, so much in my life shifted. I began living for myself.
My judgments became less black-and-white and much more loving. The comparisons stopped—well, most of them, anyway.
What if we were to create a new standard for success, based on what is important to us at this point in our lives—recognizing that what’s front and center today may not have even been on our radar five years ago.
What if we lived by our personal definition of meaning and value—instead of the external and artificial ones—and we used that to determine how and where we apportion (or re-apportion) our life’s currency of time, energy, money, emotional capacity, creativity and talent?
My own experience has taught me that living by my own rules can be intensely liberating.
Doing this frees us from the complicating bondage of what others might think—illuminating new pathways to expressing ourselves, earning a living and even feeling happier than we have in years.
Ready to give it a try?
Okay, here’s your four-step homework assignment:
1. Make a list that outlines the way you currently measure yourself, your value and your success. Consider things like titles, salaries, material possessions, invitations and status.
2. Make a second list that outlines how you might think about life, if you were to take all those first-list things away, not even allowing them to be measuring sticks. Consider instead, things like how you want to feel when your head hits the pillow at night or when you rise in the morning, experiences you want to have, and how you can use your unique talents to serve others.
3. Contemplate the gap that exists between List 1 and List 2, and consider what actions or changes need to take place to move you from one to the other. Map out a plan.
4. Put the plan in motion, taking the first step—however small—immediately. When we wait, we lose momentum, but when we act, we build it.
Armed with a plan and a sense of direction—we’re off!
As Dr. Seuss writes in Oh, The Places You’ll Go:
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”
Author: Becky Vollmer
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Rolfe Kolbe