Attaching Your Self-Worth to Productivity

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Post By Jennifer Drean, Deliberate Directions Success Strategist

Jennifer is passionate about helping people grow their businesses. She can assist with leadership development, career advancement, and systems design.

Jennifer continues to successfully run her own family medical practice, Gem State Family Eyecare, which she founded in 2011.

You are an extremely high achiever and you pride yourself on how much you get accomplished in a day. In fact, at the end of the day you look back at all you accomplished and get a strong feeling of pride for checking off so many things or a sense of defeat if you didn’t accomplish everything. You may even boast to those important to you at the end of the day for everything you “did”. But even in your downtime, do you get that nagging sense of guilt that you aren’t being productive enough? Like you should be doing something else that would help you reach your goals instead of relaxing for an hour watching Netflix? If this sounded a lot like you, you may be placing too much value on productivity, even defining your self-worth based on how productive you are. That is when productivity can become a huge problem and start to negatively impact your life instead of positively impacting it. So, let’s talk about productivity, maintain it as a positive force in our lives by detaching it from our self worth!

In order to separate our self worth from our productivity levels, it’s important to first ask yourself if you are being productive or busy. In modern America, it is a badge of honor to answer the question “how are you?” with “busy”. But is busy really what we are all striving for as high achievers? To be the most productive we can be, it is important to remember that it isn’t about getting all the things done but getting the right things done. Remember, Pareto’s Principle tells us that 20% of the actions we take contribute to 80% of our outcomes and likewise 80% of the actions we take will give us only 20% of the results we achieve. Therefore, we need to take that 100% and figure out which are the 20% of actions we need to perform that will give us the biggest traction towards hitting our goals then figure out how to delegate or delete the rest of the 80% from your life. Focusing on trying to do the 80% or the 100% will likely just lead you to either a breakdown or burnout…the opposite of productivity! Managing our personal energy in this way will help us to maintain a high level of achievement, the positive side of productivity!

There are 4 main ways that tying your self worth to your productivity can have an extremely bad effect on your life. First of all, as mentioned above, when we try to do all the things we end up burning out or having a breakdown. These don’t just cause a minor decrease in productivity but a complete and utter halt…sometimes lasting weeks! Second, when we are so attached to our productivity, we tend to be disengaged from the present. Always thinking about the 5 projects at work or the schedule for the week. Being disengaged, especially when we are spending time with our family and friends can wreak havoc on our personal relationships and that’s right, lead to more stress. Next, when we attach our self worth to our level of productivity, we tend to find “it’s never enough!” How productive is good enough, when can we relax, when can we breathe? And lastly, when we do finally give ourselves permission to relax, reset, recharge, we end up causing a feeling of shame for not being productive enough and maybe even a sense of shame to those around us who can’t maintain the same pace we do. This leads us and those around us to feel worthless.

Following are 9 ideas for detaching your self worth from your productivity.

1. Celebrate More Often

Everyone likes to be acknowledged and valued (even you!) and sometimes celebrating the little wins in life can make us feel like life is better and we have done enough. So have a 3 minute dance party today with your team to celebrate a small achievement, just because and inspire those around you!

2. Redefine Success or Progress

What if success isn’t the number of things you check off your to do list? Maybe it’s the number of vacation days you take a year or the number of nights you make it home for dinner with your family. For me recently it is the number of the things on my to do list that I successfully delegated to another member of the team or outsourced. Considering other ways to measure your progress and success will really help you detach your self worth from your productivity. Remember, success is not doing all the things to have everything you wanted and then becoming the person you were meant to be. The true Formula for Success is that we first must embody or become the person we want to be and practice doing the actions that a successful person would do in order to have the successful and meaningful life we desire. How else can you define success?

3. Schedule Time for Personal Enjoyment and Breaks First in Your Default Calendar

That’s right, when you are sitting down on Sunday evening to plan your week don’t start with your work and other obligations, start with your personal enjoyment and health activities first, then fill in the blanks with the work activities. This will ensure you keep your time focused on those things most important to you and ensure your personal energy stays at peak levels and prevents burnout!

4. Positive Affirmations

Our self-talk has such a significant impact on how we show up and what we believe about ourselves and our abilities. Using positive affirmations to change your negative self talk to something more positive can be extremely helpful when trying to convert your self worth away from a more productivity based definition. My favorite ones to recite while looking in a mirror are “I am worthy. I am loved. I am enough. I am whole just as I am.” Doing this daily will have life changing outcomes.

5. Ask “What Are You Passionate About?”

What interesting, inspiring, and meaningful conversations we would have if we just switched from our default of “how are you doing?” to “what are you passionate about?” Doing this will take the focus off the default answer of “busy” and our to do list and focus us instead on building a meaningful life and inspiring others to do the same.

6. List 5 People and What You Love About Them

Doing this will help you define the traits and characteristics that are most important to you and very rarely is “productive” the trait we list. Jim Rohn says, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” If we want to be a certain way, identifying who those people are and what about them we love can tell us the 5 people we should be spending more time with and then limiting time with people who also depend heavily on their levels of productivity to define their self worth can help us out of this damaging mindset.

7. Write Yourself a Love Note

When we spend the time to sit down and acknowledge all the things we love about ourselves, we find our value that is independent of our productivity. I know some of you may think this is corny, but it is such an empowering tool for learning to love ourselves for who we are, not what we can accomplish.

8. Redefine or Review Your Values, Make Sure Your Actions Are in Line, and Eliminate What Doesn’t Add Value

 In business, we often hear talk of Core Values. These are the root beliefs by which an organization chooses to operate. Most businesses have core values but most don’t necessarily live by them or make decisions using their core values as a filter. And most leaders I coach don’t have personal core values they live by, at least not defined. Most of us have certain values but we never take the time to sit down and define them and then make decisions in our life based on those values. When we have extreme clarity of our core values, making decisions becomes easy. When we filter our decisions through our defined core values first, we make better decisions that lead to a more meaningful life and it helps us to eliminate activities or to do’s that don’t add value to our lives…instantly making us less “busy”.

9. Embrace Failure and Imperfection

Sometimes just not expecting perfection from ourselves is the most liberating action we can take. If you struggle with perfectionism, visit our article “Embracing Imperfection: 7 Tips for Overcoming Perfectionism.”

Remember, detaching your self worth from your levels of productivity is going to take time and practice so be patient with yourself and just keep trying every day! Your self worth is inherent and unconditional, you have nothing to prove to anyone, you are already enough! It’s impossible to be productive 24/7 so stop trying! The point of life is to make it meaningful so instead of focusing on productivity, start showing up for what’s really important to you!

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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