Tackling a big topic on the podcast today – how we can separate our sense of worth from our productivity. It isn’t easy and I certainly still struggle from this from time to time.
In this episode I’m sharing the six ideas I come back to time and time again to help me untangle them.
Listen wherever you get your podcasts or here:
Links and further reading
- Your surge capacity is depleted – it’s why you feel awful
- How to stay consistent with your content without burning out
- CBT for anxiety – what I learned
- How to stop people pleasing (… so much)
- The benefits of mood tracking
- Support me on Ko-fi
This week we’re looking into ways you can untangle worth from productivity. It’s a big topic and it’s not easy, but here I’ll share six tips that I personally come back to time and time again.
Hello everyone, how are you all doing? I hope you’re all OK and that lockdown version 2 isn’t too tough for you. When I planned all the podcast episodes I had no idea we would be going back into lockdown but I feel like today’s topic is accidentally quite apt.
Last time we went into lockdown there seemed to be an underlying assumption that it would free up time for us all to be more ‘productive’. People took to baking, learning languages and doing everything they could to fill the yawning gap lockdown apparently provided.
I know my experience and the experience of a lot of other people in my circles was very different. Time shrank for me and any spare time I did have was met with exhaustion, I mean I ended up basically burning out, didn’t I – so, there we go. There’s a great article about surge capacity which explains pretty well why we’re all exhausted by the pandemic – I’ll add a link in the show notes. But suffice to say, productivity has not come easily for many of us during this time.
And yet, so many of us, myself included, often tie productivity with worth. If we do a lot, if we produce a lot, we feel we’re more worthy. Detaching this sense of worth from your productivity and work is a huge topic and I think if you love what you do and give it 100%, it’s even easier to link the work you produce with your sense of worth.
And for business owners, this can be even more pronounced, right?. You started your business for a reason. You have a passion for something and you want to see it do well.
Separating who you are with what you do in these scenarios… is tough. And yeah – I’m certainly no exception here. I’ve often fallen into the trap of thinking the amount of content I create and the impact that content has makes me worthy. But, as I learnt over the summer, this kind of thinking is not sustainable.
And that’s because we’re humans, not robots and we simply can’t be productive all the time, especially under the current circumstance. When anxiety really first came up in my life in 2017, it had a lot to do with the amount I was pushing myself at work. I was trying to give 100% to everything work-related, my day-job, my blog and my coaching at the time.
Being forced into therapy made me see that this couldn’t go on. I learned that giving less than 100% is OK. I learned that rest is essential if I want to do the work I love.
I, obviously, still have days where I forget this and it’s a lesson I keep learning, but there are a few key things I come back to time and time again to help me separate my worth from my productivity and that’s what I want to share with you today.
The first step is to stop seeing worthiness as a condition. This is something I’d love you to get your head around. So many of us see worthiness as something we can only feel ‘if’ something else happens. ‘If’ we do well at work. ‘If’ we have a happy relationship. ‘If’ we’re financially successful. Or maybe even ‘If’ everyone likes us.
Instead, we need to understand that our worthiness is inherent. It’s always there, we do not have to do anything to deserve it. We might not always be able to see it, but it is always there. If you find yourself treating worthiness as a condition, try creating a phrase or a mantra you can repeat such as “I am always worthy” and use this to challenge your thinking.
The next idea I always come back to is seeing rest as part of the work. And here’s why – without resting and taking care of yourself, you simply won’t be able to do your best work. Remind yourself that you deserve relaxation and moments of rest, regardless of how much work you’ve done. Try to get in tune with your energy levels using tools like meditation, journaling or even mood tracking. This will help you see that we all have ebbs and flows when it comes to energy and that some circumstances simply require more rest than others.
Another thing I try to remember is to enjoy the process. When it comes to work we can get so fixated with the end result that we forget to just… well, enjoy the process. So try to be more mindful while working and recognise where those moments of joy show up in the process.
For me, there’s nothing quite like feeling in the flow of writing. When I’ve got some good music playing, the words are coming easily and I’m excited about what I’m writing. Sure, I still feel a sense of pride at the end result, but it’s also nice to just bask in the joy of doing, regardless of the result.
The next thing I want to mention is a tip that’s been hammered home for me this year and it is to remind yourself who you are outside of work. Our society loves to pin our identity to our work. It’s one of the first things we ask when we meet someone, “So, what do you do?”, it’s no wonder we see ourselves as nothing but our job. And I don’t want to pretend that our work doesn’t have a lot to do with our identity and worth, but it’s important to remind ourselves of the other things we are.
For example, being a writer and creating content is a huge part of who I am, but if I lost my ability to do it tomorrow, I would still be me. I would still have the same core values and beliefs. I would still be a daughter, sister, girlfriend. An exercise that can help with this is to try writing a list of all the things you ‘are’ that aren’t related to your work, I think you’ll be surprised at how much there is.
With this in mind, the next step is to invest in play. Switching off from work and the seriousness of life now and then is so important. I write and talk about heavy subjects a lot and it can get a bit much sometimes. I need my moments of fun to take myself away from it all at times and find this really helps me connect to non-work Kat.
So, invest in play. Make sure you have hobbies and pastimes that get you away from work, make you smile and bring an air of lightness and joy into your life. This could be watching your favourite TV show, drawing for the fun of drawing (something I’ve been enjoying lately) or having a kitchen dance party with the kids. Anything that gives you a moment of joy.
And my final piece of advice here is to reconnect with your human-ness. We really do need to remind ourselves again and again that we are human. We’re fallible. We make mistakes, we make the wrong decisions, we do things that aren’t good for us and none of this makes us any less worthy.
Try to connect with your human side when you feel like you aren’t doing enough. Allow yourself the space you need to learn and grow. Perhaps try journaling about what it means to be human and ask yourself if you would judge a friend if they were in the same boat – sometimes we need to step outside of ourselves to see things clearly.
So there we go – I hope this was helpful to think about. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as always, do come over to @katbluejay on Instagram to have a chat and yeah, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with our interview episode – every season of the podcast I like to do one interview with someone who can speak on a topic from a different perspective to mine and yeah, I’m really excited to share this one with you so that’ll be in your podcast app in a couple of weeks, but until then, I hope you all take care.