...I define achievement as having a good life; getting the job of living done in a satisfying way that nurtures the life force within us and within those we associate with...It involves finding something to do with our lives that engages us and gives us positive feedback. If we're doing it right, life shouldn't be a debilitating struggle, even if at times it takes considerable effort.
God bless Bernard Roth. You know when a book comes into your life at just the right time? Call it divine intervention, the universe aligning, or just good luck, but it’s special. (Funny how two of the most inspiring new people in my life are named Bernard/Bernie.)
I don’t even remember why I ordered this book from the library – though I’m sure I read about it somewhere – but lately it seems God has been sending them to me at either ironic or perfect times. I am the quintessential lifetime overachiever, chasing the achievement goals for the next award, diploma, etc. with the false expectation that the choir will sing Hallelujiah and the feeling of fulfillment will be reached. Yeah, no. I love the learning along the way and the challenges, but I’ve said to myself for many years how I with I could just go to classes, do assignments, etc. just for the pure learning and joy of it; not worrying about the grade. After accepting my doctoral degree it finally truly hit me that the degrees, the awards, the accolades that I strove for, cried over, expected to bring me to my next needed step, always ended up empty in some way. That (quite large) piece of thick paper was a let down. Don’t get me wrong. I learned a LOT about my subject matter and even MORE about myself, the educational ‘game,’ people, and life in general so I have no regrets for taking on this challenge. But this quote IS the epitome of what I have NOT let myself believe and focus on.
But at 36 with a beautiful nearly 16 month old daughter and amazing husband who is truly my life mate, it’s being made abundantly clear to me I’ve been following the wrong north star, as it were. What’s worse – I knew it all along.
The quiet voice in your head that tells you to ‘let it go’ or ‘it’s going to work out in the end’ or ‘just go take a walk.’
The times when I was just giddy with joy doing the simplest of tasks or working on a really fulfilling assignment.
The hours I would completely lose working on a creative project that had no ‘purpose’ but was just plain fun.
Thanks to Mr. Roth, recent health scares, ridiculous financial situations, completely unforseen mental health craziness, much reflection, divine intervention, family and friend support, and maturity, I am focusing on being Heather again. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s surprising how focusing on everything but myself turned into not knowing myself:
What makes me happy?
What do I like to do for fun?
What brings me self-fulfillment?
I never again want to read one of these questions and cry because I realize I don’t even know anymore – aside from being with my husband and daughter.
I know I can’t be alone in this. Are the other lifetime overachievers out there seeing any part of themselves in Mr. Roth’s quote as well? New moms? ‘Older’ moms? Grad school graduates? ‘Provider’ dads? Overthinkers? Caregivers? Students?
Tell me what you’re thinking in the COMMENTS below. What do you want to ‘achieve’ with this new definition of achievement?