From the series: Confessions of a Recovering Overachiever by Cortney McDermott, Chime
It took me a long time to get over this one. I used to have my days planned down to the hour. Ok, more like the minute (2-minute calm break @ 11am, anyone?).
I thought if I wasn’t doing every second of every day I wasn’t achieving. I wasn’t contributing. I wasn’t important. I wanted the pat on the back: “Brava! You did all that?” (Subtext to self: “And therefore you are valuable.”)
Then I had a wake up call – a real one, from a hotel concierge. I’d already been awake working for hours. Thousands of miles from my husband and young daughter, practicing a speech in front of a mirror . . .
My reflection stared at me: I’d done everything I had to do, but I felt like crap.
That’s when it clicked (right along with the click of hanging up that call): feeling is more important than doing. When I was feeling good, I was doing good. Simple. I needed to start focusing on the feeling.
It took a while, but I eventually started trusting my feelings more than my timed to-do list. Ditching rigidity and allowing inspired flow into my life was one of the best decisions I ever made. Now I leave space for flow, like this example from the other day:
It was time to write an article about responsible investment. I blocked the entire morning for it. For some reason, though, I was drawn to my piano. My inner overachiever’s reaction was: No, no, no: you’re supposed to be writing this investment piece; now get to it!
Then I remembered to be soft and follow that recovering, feeling-focused voice: Play, she said. So I did. I played for over an hour. Then I sat down at my desk and wrote. It took me less than 45 minutes to start and complete the article.
My ego still wasn’t ready to trust completely. Was it any good? So I ran it by a friend in the sustainable investment community. She certainly thought so, and was excited to share it with her community once it was published.
Now this doesn’t mean that I’ve completely discarded structure. Far from it. But now my structure is more about routines and rituals – guided life habits that I cultivate for optimal mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
How do you approach your day with gentleness and presence? What flow suggestions do you have for fellow recovering overachievers?
Cortney McDermott – Co-founder & CEO, Chime
Cortney McDermott is an internationally sought after sustainability and communications expert. After nearly a decade in the Fortune 500 world, Cortney decided to turn her passions into her profession. “The real crisis humanity faces is not planetary. It’s personal. At the heart of every poor decision, flawed system, or unhappy person is wrong thinking. We may not realize it, but we shape our world. It’s up to us whether we do so intentionally or not.”
An award-winning author and official blogger for The Huffington Post, Cortney helps others understand how to shape their reality with intention. Her 7-Step process to personal and professional transformation starts with what she calls simplicating: cutting away the unnecessary so we can hone in on the strategies and actions that spark success, enhance value, and create a better world. “It’s amazing the opportunities that open up when you build a discipline around doing the right thing.” Cortney has advised global corporate leaders on sustainability, corporate communications, and business strategy. She has also served as an executive at Vanity Fair Corporation, Vice President at Sustainability Partners, professor of graduate studies for Top Ten universities, and chair of multiple global business organizations.
She’s done all this without sacrificing her life as a wife, mother, marathon runner and yogi in a small mountain village in the North of Italy. Join her and thousands around the world chiming in to Work Life Harmony.