The Price of Victory When You Wrestle with Yourself
Personal effectiveness
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Unhealthy popularity has been gained in the present-day world by the idea that everyone must endure severe effective efficiency in order to achieve positive success and sink into blissful happiness as quickly as possible.

The image of an effective over-achiever is actively promoted nearly all over the world. There is an entire industry that supports the mass neurosis of the need to become “a better version of yourself.”

That is why so many women nowadays are concerned with fighting procrastination and with “overcoming themselves.” What they mean by it is the ability to work round the clock and permanent cheerfulness for about 25 hours a day. In reality, such symptoms are only attributable to the maniac phase of a mental disorder and are not normal for a healthy person.

Actually, if you’ve caught yourself experiencing neurotic worry about your own “insufficient” effectiveness, the first thing you should ask yourself is “Who benefits if I resemble a robot?”


Off the top of my head I can give at least three different answers: your employer, those around you and… you yourself.

Employers mostly benefit from giving the maximum load to the employees they already have instead of hiring new ones and increasing their spending on labor, social benefits and taxes. It is neither good nor bad, that’s simply how life is and you should bear it in mind.

Your near and dear ones also tend to add fuel to the flames of your obsessions and anxieties. If your husband claims that “A good wife can do everything; she can have a job, and cook, and iron his shirts, and clean the house, and watch the kids; she can be a sex star at night and wake up with a bright smile in the morning,” that’s exactly what I am talking about. Although, to tell you the truth, I think if you follow a schedule like that it will not be cheerfulness that twists your face in the morning.

It stands to reason that you’d want to replace a crowd of domestics with one woman. It’s easiest to achieve this by instilling the idea that you are inferior to women of ages past, who managed to get all that done, and without plumbing, electricity or household appliances at that.

Does it sound like your case? Then your first real victory will not involve installing a jet engine in your body, but firmly refusing to undertake single-handedly what should be done by five different women.

If your friends and relatives exploit you in the same vein, charitably shaking their heads in passing a la “You poor thing, you never get anything done. That’s because you’re so disorganized,” just tell them to go away and don’t bother with explanations. If you find the strength to get rid of those who manipulate you or waste your time, you will score yet another real victory.

Now let us try to figure out in detail why you believe that achieving effective efficiency is vital to you.

It may be that you want to fit some sort of an ideal. You might also really have the habit of always putting things off or dragging them out. You might also really be not very productive because of chronic fatigue and you want to give your productivity a boost.

In the last case, you don’t need to boost anything. The only things that will help you are a lengthy rest and physical recovery. Not just a change of environment with the laptop under your arm, but the real tuning out of all work processes, discussions and meetings.

How long such a recovery period lasts depends on how badly you’ve depleted your resources working in an unhealthy mode. Once, it took me exactly three months to recover after a year replete with work and study with my children.

Striving to comply with social standards of a perfect person testifies to the fact that, first of all, you don’t know much about psychophysiology of the brain and secondly, your control locus has shifted externally. Simply speaking it means that if you are too worried about opinions of others, you are insufficiently mature psychologically and you have no system of values of your own.

There is a way out of this. It consists of dealing with psychologically mature people and acquiring the skill of setting and achieving your own objectives, getting your bearings from your own prioritized feelings. Psychological maturity will be your most valuable victory.

As far as the great and terrible procrastination is concerned, which it has become so fashionable to fight, everything is quite simple and manageable.

The psychophysiological mechanism of the brain is so made that it will only voluntarily give you energy for survival or joy. For many, deadlines are just such an artificial threat of social “non-survival”: public disapproval, reprimands, penalties, deals that fall through or getting fired. That is why the weathered procrastinator is visited by special inspiration just a few hours before the deadline. Not to put too fine a point on it, even Mozart wrote the overture to Don Giovanni on the morning of the opening night.

So it is perfectly normal to put off things that you have no interest or need in, or things that scare you with their novelty. That is why it makes sense to regularly review your “to do” list and cross out the items that do not lead to achievement of your objectives or are imposed on you either by social stereotypes or by specific manipulators.

You can work through each of the remaining items using the following model: “I can do this (and the outcome will be such and such) or I can not do it (then it will have a different outcome). Here is the outcome I want, that is why I am choosing to actually do it.” Once you work through 50 items like that, your brain will make the choice automatically.

Things that need to be done, but are neither exciting nor enjoyable should be done not as a project – from start to finish, but strictly by timing them and promising your brain a substantial reward at the end.

For example, you can make a deal with your brain that for one hour you will do your utmost for this particular thing, allowing no distractions whatsoever, but then you will treat yourself to some online shopping, or a cup of amazing coffee, or a hot bath with a great book and a glass of something wonderfully delicious.

The key is not to lie to your brain and to always keep your promises. You will see your productivity soar and you will eagerly wait for your next “boring” to-do item.

Ultimately, all behavioral motivation can be brought down to striving for joy or avoiding misfortune. Your satisfaction with life will improve if the number of things you do that are geared toward achieving your personal success and joy increases, while the number of things to routinely support your current status decreases respectively. That is why I personally always vote for delegating all routine and all actions that I don’t enjoy to others and pay for them.

I recommend that you do the same thing at every opportunity and that you take better care and pay more attention to yourself. Live your life based on your interests and values. Make sure to place your health and serenity of mind at the very top of that list of values. Then, you’re sure to win every victory!

Date of publication: 30 August 2018
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