Come On, You Can Do Better Than That

I walk around with numerous voices in my head. I’m not schizophrenic.  These voices aren’t hallucinations.  They’re my very own thinking.

As I have grown in my understanding of how my thoughts are responsible for my feelings and actions, I’ve become much more aware of what it is that I’m actually thinking most of the time. Through that I’ve identified numerous patterns of thought and each one seems to have its own voice.

One of these voices loves to think that she’s helpful, but most of the time she’s not.  Her favorite things to tell me are that I could do better.  I could do more.  I could try harder.  She likes to pretend that her statements are coming from a desire for excellence, but they’re not.

They’re coming from a deep sense of self-doubt and a lack of trust in myself.

Another dirty little secret of perfectionism! How do you know when you’ve achieved it? How do you know when it’s enough?  How do you know when you’ve given your all?

You don’t.

You never know if you’ve achieved your goal because that little voice inside your head is always doubting you.  She’s always questioning if you really tried your best.  She’s telling you that it’s never enough.  She sets the finish line like the water across a road on a hot day.  It’s right there.  You can see it.  You’ll never reach it.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve achieved a lot in your life by listening to that voice.  You might have even convinced yourself that she’s the secret to your success. 

I’d like to let you in on a little secret.  She’s not. You don’t need her.  You can achieve anything you want without her constant questioning and doubting.  You have nothing to prove to her.

The big question, however, is how do you do it without her?

You begin by trusting yourself.  Then, from that place of trust, you show up for yourself 100% of the time.  If you tell yourself you’re going to do something, you do it.  Then you let that be enough. 

Let me give you an example.  I used to have this running to-do list.  I would write everything down that I thought I wanted to do and then I’d constantly add to it.  I kept it in a little notebook and, after a while, it would stretch out over multiple pages.   When I’d marked off a lot of things, I’d consolidate it.  I’d put everything I hadn’t done at the top of the new list and then keep going.

It sounds super organized and I thought it was. What it really was, however, was a constant running reminder of all the things I kept telling myself I “needed” to do, but then didn’t make time for.  They were always at the top of my list.  In actuality, they were rarely things I really needed or even wanted to do.  They were just the things that I didn’t do.  They were also a constant reminder that my inner voice would use to prove to me that I wasn’t doing enough. Ever week or two I’d rewrite that list and, every time I moved those items over to the new list, I would let her tell me how it was further proof that I was wasting my time and not living up to my own expectations.

Let me tell you, thoughts like that rarely lead to feelings that drive one to take actions other than buffering with Nexflix and cookies.

Now I’m much more mindful about what I decide I’m going to do every week.  I still keep a running to-do list of things I’d love to get around to someday (those family photos are going to end up in frames eventually), but I no longer let it float to the top of my priorities.  I guard my time and I make sure that everything I commit to is something I actually want to spend my time doing.

Every week I look at my calendar.  I fill it mindfully with a focus on spending my time doing things that help me further my goals rather than please other people.  I’m realistic about what I can accomplish.  I plan in time for the things I love like riding my horse, sewing, and spending time with friends and family. Then all I do is follow my plan for the week and let that be enough.

That little voice still likes to creep in and suggest that I could be doing more, but now I just remind her that she’s wrong.  Perfection is for you to define. 

If you’d like help managing your inner critic or any other voices that are pretending to be helpful, coaching can absolutely help.  Sign up for me free mini course How To Feel Better On Your Next Shift.  Then when you’re ready to get learn more, email me at