What was it that Ben Franklin said? “…but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” That’s how I felt about annual performance reviews. You could set your calendar by them. Years later, one really stands out for me.
I was sitting outside my boss’ office waiting to get called in. I was prepared – wrote out all of my achievements, how I met and exceeded my goals. Looking through all my tracking sheets and project plans and feedback from satisfied internal clients, I thought, “Wow, I really accomplished a lot over the course of the year.”
That thought lasted for about a nanosecond.
With the next breath, I asked myself, “Could I have done more?” Looking at all my documented accomplishments, I thought, I could have probably done this or that better. And why didn’t I complete all of that extra work that I was always saying yes to? For the next 10 minutes, I proceeded to bombard myself with all the ways I didn’t think I measured up.
By the time I sat down with my boss I felt like apologizing.
We went through everything and while it was all there in black and white I found myself holding back on my accomplishments. In fact I pointed out a part of a project that while it wasn’t required for the success of the project, was my idea to include it. But I wasn’t able to complete it.
My boss turned to me and looked me straight in the eye.
In a flash of a second I was that little girl again, eager to please, seeking approval and hoping to get that nugget of praise. “Oh boy here it comes…I’ve let her down!”
“You know Pam, you are harder on yourself than I would ever be.”
I sort of laughed off the comment. I didn’t get the message. What I did get was an excellent review but it was years later before her words struck a chord with me. I was reading through my resume. I really took in my accomplishments. The projects managed, teams led, and the impact of my contributions. I could hear her voice again. This time I got it.
As women we put so much mental pressure on ourselves.
Pressure to do more, be more, get everything right, not make a mistake, fit in, and never rock the boat. We don’t believe in ourselves, take less risks than our male counterparts, fail to build self-confidence and believe we are enough.
What do you tell yourself that says, “I’m not good enough?” How does that pressure affect your happiness?
It’s time to release the pressure.
Catch yourself when the mental chatter starts. What are you doing? Why is it that chatter creeping in? How is it holding you back? Re-frame those thoughts into positive messages.
Most of all celebrate (for more than a nanosecond!) how good you are…just as you are!