When I was a gawky kid, whenever I brought home my report card, if I had a B, I immediately wanted a A. If I had a A, I wanted an A-plus.
When I ran cross country in high school, if I cut 15 seconds off my 5k time, I wanted to run the exact same course the next day to see if I could cut off another 30 seconds off my time. Over the course of the season, I’d play out various scenarios in my head, how I would work to get my time to a desired time. I run now to keep in shape, but the same principle holds true, I’m constantly in competition with myself.
It’s that way too with my career.
When I was a newspaper reporter, I constantly looked for a story that others didn’t have. I wanted to keep moving up the ladder onto bigger and more financially stable newspaper roles and I followed that path, moving from newspaper to newspaper, until finally I moved out of journalism into the corporate world.
Are you noticing a trend here?
There’s no question that I’m very competitive with myself. For that reason, working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic has been crazy on my psyche. The best way to beat COVID: stay inside; wear a mask when you have to go outside; avoid contact with others, and take care of yourself.
Of course, I don’t kick off my shoes and relax really well. I’m used to being on the go. I thrive on being busy. This has all been a new and challenging for me. Every time I feel like I’m getting used to this new routine, I end up taking a step backward and feel like I’ve fallen into a pit that I can’t climb my way out.
One thing though has started work for me in recent weeks – taking a deep breath and letting the competitiveness pass and instead just being present in the moment. I’m lost without some new challenge, but maybe that’s just what I need: to live in the moment.