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Pressuring yourself to succeed is a good way to fail

We’ve all done it. We have set ourselves a goal, made a plan, and spent the time and effort to reach our intended end-game and bask in our success.

But it doesn’t always go that way. In fact, rarely.

“Oh no!” I hear you cry. “Do you mean that everything you’ve written over the past five years is collywoddle?”

Absolutely not. Even when pushing ourselves to achieve, we still need to remember to be kind to ourselves. Not everything that happens is under our control, so when things go awry, sometimes we need to adjust things slightly, or simply be patient.

Sometimes, we try to force an outcome that’s just not going to happen. Force of will is not going to overcome some of the issues we face. Of course, there are times when we just have to push through and we’ll get to where we need to be, but there can come a time when we need to take stock and recognize when a certain strategy needs refining.

The problem is, when we start to face things that aren’t going quite as we like, we almost always put pressure on ourselves to try a little harder. We engineer a situation where success becomes critical to survival. So many people quit their jobs to follow their dreams, only to have to return, cap in hand, to the workforce again several months later when they run out of money.

Sometimes, this strategy can work. But it can put inordinate pressure on us as well, to the point that our brain ceases to function as efficiently as it could without that pressure. It’s hard to be creative when our rent or next meal is dependent on that creativity.

Where does this leave us, finding the balance point between determination, resilience, and adaptability?

Mostly, it’s about putting the right kind of pressure on yourself and relieving the wrong kinds. The wrong kind of pressure is that which keeps you awake at night, wondering how you are going to survive. It’s when you are more worried about the outcome of failure than taking the next steps towards your goal.

The right kind of pressure is what drives you to reach your destination. If quitting your job does that, then more power to you. If spending every waking moment works, then do that. But when you feel your productivity slipping, then sit back for a moment and ask yourself, “Is this the best way to reach my goal? Is there a better way?”

Remember, the only thing that hitting your head against a brick wall over and over is going to do is give you a headache. Better to stand back for a moment and find the door instead.

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