Going back to last Monday’s post about comfort versus risk in your career…I’ve been thinking a lot about this.
Everyone, including me, *assumes* that comfort is the easier, more beneficial option. Especially as a working/involved mom/dad, there’s a lot to be said for the familiar. You know the schedule, you know the duties, you know you have the skills. Predictable can be good.
But as I think about the last five years of MY career…I realize that, for me, predictability and comfort are actually the enemy. Let me explain:
I’ve been in essentially the same role for a little over four years…with one maternity leave squeezed in the middle. At this point, it’s pretty safe to say that I know my stuff. In fact, I might even be so arrogant to say that my organization would consider me to be an expert in some areas of it.
Ironically, this provides me with absolutely ZERO comfort. What it does create is a MONSTER tendency towards perfectionism. I’ve been around the block, people come to me for advice and counsel…and therefore I should NOT make any mistakes. This sounds absolutely ridiculous when I put it on paper, but at the end of the day, it’s a true statement when it comes to my real feelings. I am insanely hard on myself when it comes to work products, getting angry and frustrated whenever I don’t meet my own oft-absurd standards, which are often significantly higher than what I see many other people striving to. Prettier powerpoint slides, more eloquent communications, better-run meetings, greater understanding of data and analytics, better operational systems.
You know when I’m *NOT* a total perfectionist at work? When I’m doing something new and different. When I stick my neck out for a project where I don’t fully understand all the details but I go all-in anyway. I still do my best, of course, but if I don’t know exactly what good is supposed to look like, it’s hard to perfectionize. At the end of the day, when I’m in a new role or project, I feel good for trying, because I know in my heart I’m pretty darn smart and capable…and the standards aren’t so impossible to achieve.
So while I risk a little in terms of predictability when I try something new at work, I gain a LOT in terms of sanity and mental health.
I suspect many people are a LOT like me. The longer they’ve been at their job, the more they expect of themselves, at work AND at home. This is how women in particular likely get into the trap of thinking they can “do it all” and with perfect balance. The longer your’re at the same thing, the more outlandish and unattainable the standards become, the less satisfied you are with work and life. When I’m living in a bit of chaos and newness…a product launch, a new team…I naturally expect a bit less of myself, and am generally happier with the results.
Anyone identify with this?