Monday, September 5, 2011

Glass Half Full

Someone posted this on FB today and it made me laugh.

I've had Labor Days like that. And New Year Days too. And sometimes Sundays feel that way. You look back and recall all the optimism and grand plans you had at the start, and now that you've reached the end point (end of a week, weekend, year, summer, etc), reality hits you as to what you failed to accomplish.

Of course there are times when you do achieve what you set out to do, and you can feel good about it. But there are those times when you don't. Especially if you are an over planner and an over achiever, like me. I am sure some of you can relate to this.

I've struggled all my life with this - with seeing the glass half full and not half empty; with focusing on what was accomplished, rather than lamenting over what did not get done. I've made progress, but its been a struggle and it remains a struggle. But I know that I will be so much happier if I focus on the positive. This I have learned from experience.

It helps having a partner who is very positive and who can talk me down from my negative tree when I start to climb up there. I don't think I ever realized how much of an over thinker and over planner I really tend to be until he started calling me on it. We would go into a weekend and I would start to list out all the things I wanted to do and he would bluntly point out that maybe we wouldn't be able to accomplish all of those things. Which would piss me off at first - how dare he say I can't do it all? I can accomplish anything I want to if I set my mind to it! But underneath that pride, I knew he was right. And now I can accept that I am an over thinker and an over planner. And its ok. As long as you manage it.

Actually I think I am more of an over thinker and idea generator than an over planner. There is a difference. My problem was not so much that I made a lot of commitments, although sometimes that would happen, but rather that my head would be full of ideas of things I wanted to do, over a weekend for example - catch up on work, clean up my office, clean the house, visit friends and family, go hiking, go shopping, see a movie, cook dinners, and on and on. I don't think that having a desire to do a lot of things is a bad thing. It shows that you have a lot of interests and a full life. It only becomes a bad thing if you overbook on commitments that you can't deliver on, that affect others, AND if you beat yourself up when you can't fulfill all of your proposed ideas and goals.

I try not to make commitments for things where I am uncertain that I will deliver. I learned that lesson longer ago. It sucks to let your friends down. Too many promises to people I love that I couldn't always deliver on - for example missed get togethers because I was stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted from being overcommitted on everything - mostly work. Learning to not overcommit at work deserves a whole blog entry on its own. That took me years and years and a lot of headaches to learn, and I am still improving on that one. Learning to stop overcommitting with work helped me to stop overcommitting in other areas of my life. If you overcommit at work - stop it! Work on this. It will improve your life.

However, learning to stop beating myself up for not being a superwoman and accomplishing everything that I want to do, was and remains a harder habit to break. I feel I have made a lot of progress, but it remains a lifetime struggle. I have to remind myself a lot - and my husband reminds me more - not to be too hard on myself.

I have wondered throughout my life what made me such a workaholic, such an overachiever and over thinker and over planner and perfectionist - a person whose gut instinct is to see the glass half empty because there is always so much more to do and so much more to do better. I was raised by family members that I think were pretty mellow - they didn't push me to do much. In fact I wish my mother had pushed me more on some things (piano lessons, swimming, and getting braces for example). I once read something about children of divorce often being overachievers. Something about these kids subconsciously feeling that if they just worked harder and did a better job and were more perfect, perhaps their parents would reunite and everything would be ok. Being a child of two divorces, with a crazy birth father, and a wonderful step father who as wonderful as he was, still left us, and then losing him to a motorcycle accident, all before I was a teenager - yeah I think there could be something to that, and I think that could be part of what shaped me.

But we grow and we survive. And we are in control of our own destiny. So, I am grateful that I have learned, and that I keep on learning, to stop beating myself up, to be happy with what I HAVE accomplished and all that I have in my life, and to keep on seeing that glass half full.

So, as we leave the summer and move on to a new season, do not think about what you did not accomplish. Revel in all that you DID. I am sure you did a lot of fun things and accomplished a lot. Don't overcommit yourself for the rest of the year, and more importantly, don't beat yourself up if you can't do it all.

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