“Always concentrate on how far you’ve come, rather than how far you have left to go.” ~Unknown
After pitching an idea to an international online magazine a month ago, I recently sent the article to the editor. I was quite nervous. It had taken me more than a month. Every time I sat down to write, I didn’t know how to begin.
I typed and then deleted my paragraphs. I typed again, and then deleted the whole document. I wasn’t happy with what I had written.
Eventually, I said to myself, I had to submit something because it had taken too long. So in the flurry of two hours, I hammered out the article, sent it to a friend for comments, and went about perfecting it.
I revised my writing, taking a few of my friend’s suggestions, but still I wasn’t completely satisfied with what I had produced. Yet, I didn’t know how else I would improve it anymore. By then, I was tired of reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading, so I sent it off.
For three days I waited gingerly by my computer, causing myself needless anxiety over whether or not the article would be accepted.
This was crucial for me as I was taking the first step in testing the market to see if it was receptive to my thoughts, and perhaps a book about the experiences of a Generation Y female executive overcoming depression.
Plus, the website was authoritative in its own right and it would give me some exposure and signs as to whether my direction was in on track.
I was more than ecstatic that the editor came back and said they had already published the post and gave me a link to it.
You might think I felt proud of myself for this achievement.
Quite the contrary.
Instead of giving myself a pat on the back, I started to find flaws and beat myself: there were only a few hundred views compared to other articles on the site with more than a hundred thousand, no one commented, the writing was too brisk and elementary, it was a boring topic….
As if this was not enough, I berated myself for not having made much writing progress: I still had to work on a book proposal, I had not updated my blog for a week, I owed a few people guest posts, and I had readers’ emails from weeks ago I hadn’t replied to…..
While everyone else congratulated me for achieving a milestone in my writing, I found every opportunity to criticize myself. I brushed off the compliments with a shrug, embarrassed that I had not done better, or sent in the article earlier, or created more viral impact for the website.
I kept discounting myself in my conversation with friends, until one of them could hold it no longer and scolded me.
“Woman! Give yourself some credit!” she exclaimed exasperatingly.
Finally I realized I’d focused on what I had not done, instead of what I had achieved.
In this skewed perception of my accomplishments, I discounted my efforts and belittled anything I had done. As a consequence, I shaved away my self-confidence by ruminating on my shortcomings, unable to trust in my own abilities.
But my work was not without merit, even though I was only taking baby steps toward the path I want to take. In fact, the number of views kept climbing, and readers commented, visited my own blog, wrote me emails sharing their experience, and cheered me on for my writing.
Why had I heaped so much unfounded judgment on myself? Why do any of us do this?
Why do we concentrate on the long journey ahead instead of recognizing how far we’ve come in our efforts? They form the building blocks of our future endeavors—if, that is, we learn to trust in ourselves.
We need a positive mindset to motivate ourselves to keep going.
Now, instead of reprimanding myself at the end of the day for having left 10 emails unsent, I give myself a pat on the back for having worked through fifty email responses, read a few pages of a book, spent some quality time with fiancé, baked some brownies, and simply enjoyed my day.
Recognizing what we’re doing right doesn’t mean we become complacent and stop striving for improvement. It just means we’ve learned one of the most important things we can do for our happiness and success. And that is:
Give yourself some credit!
Note: If you didn’t yesterday, enter the book giveaway for Hike Your Own Hike by leaving a comment on this interview with Francis Tapon!
Photo by Craig Myron Photography