As someone who is getting married in seven days, took a new job five weeks ago, and has been told she is an “over-achiever” just about her entire life, I have a visceral need to share how I was able to challenge my behaviors and take a step back from the high-achieving to realistically take on all of these huge life transitions. Sound impossible? It’s not! However I do owe it all to Jenna Kutcher, Kate Northrup , and Tiffany Dufu. Not familiar with these amazing women? Not to worry, I’ll share more.
Let’s talk about the phenomena of being a “high-achiever” [aka “over-achiever,” however, “over-achiever” seems like something is in excess, instead of just having standards that are set slightly higher. Hence: high-achiever.] This could manifest in a ton of different ways, variably depending on an individual’s personality, work-ethic, environment, the topic that which we are referring to, etc. Although traditionally, high-achievers may identify with a few general characteristics:
- Having perfectionism-type tendencies.
- Having a hard time saying no when a new opportunity presents itself.
- Having that “can’t-stop-won’t-stop” type attitude until the goal has been reached.
Do I think I am a high-achieving individual? Yes. Simply because of external forces constantly telling me this all my life, uttering: “that’s just Julia being Julia” in reference to many of my behaviors or actions. [Sometimes in a supportive tone, other times in a slightly judgmental tone — yes, I pick up on that.] Do I tend to willingly go one-step-further than the “typical” human on things sometimes? Yes. Does it have an impact my overall stress levels and quality of life when I take on too much and feel the need to do everything with all my effort? Mmmm, yeah. Have I been working to try to find a better balance? HECK Yes!
Every week I listen to The Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher. A delightful podcast that talks about all things pertaining to entrepreneurship, marketing, and female empowerment. In episode 256 Jenna has an amazing conversation with Kate Northrup, the fantastic Author of Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management. After listening to this episode all about productivity based life hacks, I was fascinated with Kate and all that she has to share. Sooooo I immediately [no exaggeration] downloaded the audio-book version of Do Less. I finished the book within three days of starting: listening in the morning while getting ready for work, in my car instead of music, and while making dinner in the evenings. LIFE. CHANGING. Diving into ideas, methods, and reasoning as to how we, particularly as women, can do less and achieve more. Really Julia? That’s what the book is promising? Yes. You’ll see. (*insert cutie smirk and non-creepy wink here.*)
While listening to Kate’s undeniably witty and thought-provoking prose, she mentions the book Drop the Ball, authored by Tiffany Dufu. Annnnnnnd you guessed it, as soon as she mentioned it, I logged on in and purchased the audio-book version of Drop the Ball. Tiffany dives right in to every aspect of her identity, speaking directly to me as if we are good friends catching up over a cup of coffee. She shares about the development, triumphs, and challenges of her relationship with her now husband. She discusses her fearless and ass-kicking journey as a professional. She talks about the pressures of being a working mother and how she unsuccessfully attempted to balance everything single little detail with 100% effort. She talks about her failures, and more importantly, her resilience. With every passing chapter I felt more and more as if she was taking a peek into my own life. And then she finally did it, she talks about how and why, she chooses to simply “drop the ball” on certain things in life. *Cue the mind-blown gesture and my poorly executed sound effects.*
Shortly after I finished these two books, I ended up taking on a new professional role in a different division within the same organization. An amazing opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, however, it meant me “splitting my time” between my old position and my new one. Well, 50% in each role, in day-to-day practice, was more like 75ish% in both. Oh, did I mention this began just 6 short weeks before my wedding? And right when we started looking at properties to purchase as our first home? I would not have survived these past 5 weeks without the knowledge and wisdom I gained from Kate and Tiffany. Oh Julia, how dramatic. No, I’m serious.
These past 5 weeks, after putting in 10 or 12 hour days at work [re: hey there, high-achieving] and coming home to then connect with Joey to see what we have left to do for our wedding, I found myself lying awake at night thinking :”how in the actual [*insert your own profanity*] am I going to be able to get all of this done?” The answer? It wasn’t possible. I needed to set boundaries, manage my energy more efficiently to increase productivity (thank you, Kate!), ask for help, and drop.the.ball. (thank you, Tiffany!).
This is my advice: if you are a high-achiever, getting married or otherwise, do yourself a favor and read/listen to one or both of the books mentioned. Kate and Tiffany share similar sentiments, but their own unique perspectives that will help to elevate your everyday. Plus, once you read them then you and I can discuss all our thoughts and support each other. Okay, deal? Deal.