Who’s goals are you chasing?
Who are you seeking validation from? What is your identity tied up in?
(Honestly answer it.)
All humans seek validation from someone else (probably more than one “someone else”), so don’t start shaming yourself now. Got it?
When we are brought into this world we need love, emotional warmth and responsiveness in order to thrive. It’s what separates us from other living species.
As we grow, we figure out how to continue to get that from the people in our lives, and sometimes it comes at a cost. We end up sacrificing ourselves, our identity, in the process.
When I work with my clients I remind them of this because while we might be “grown up”, it is still rooted deep within us that we need to chase acceptance, approval, love and appreciation. Or put another way, work to avoid rejection or disappointment so we don’t “feel” bad about ourselves.
If you are nodding your head in agreement and thinking, “YES, that’s ME!”, I’d venture to guess that you experience quite a bit of stress, anxiety, and potentially some low self-esteem as a result. (I did.)
Like me (I’m recovered now!), you might be a professional people pleaser. This is usually the case because it becomes a coping mechanism for us out of the fear of being our true authentic self.
We think…will I still be accepted if I show up as the real me? Will I still be loved if I share who I really am?
I’m at the point in my life now where I say, who the eff cares…but I that took awhile. ;)
Maybe you aren’t sure who you really are, what you want, or how the hell you actually feel because you’ve spent your life enmeshed with others’ and neglecting yourself.
Care about what other people think and you will always be a prisoner - Lao Tzu
As the quote implies, the danger with goal setting is that more often than not they aren’t our actual goals and over time we will begin to feel the dissatisfaction associated with that.
Early on we figure out what we can do to get the most love and attention, and we follow that path. We end up in a career, a sport, a marriage, a family with 2.5 kids, we do ALL THE THINGS because we’ve they give us the love and acceptance we are conditioned to seek.
I spent the first 30 years of my life on this hamster wheel, and when I finally got the hell off it felt really effing scary and then...totally fulfilling!
In my case, early on in life I figured out my athletic abilities were a source of validation from the ones I loved. It wasn’t necessarily the only motivation for why I was a competitive runner, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a big factor. Eventually the energy behind that achievement wasn’t healthy and I was left questioning who I was and what I wanted.
My identity was so tied up in my athletics, that when I got sidelined with a health issue and couldn’t race, I spent years trying to figure out who I was in this world. Every other thing I latched on to after that was in an effort to achieve that same feeling of validation after achieving something big.
Here are a few things that you might be experiencing if you have been chasing the wrong goals...
Stress + anxiety. I probably don’t need to delve too deep into this one, because if you’ve identified with what has already been stated you likely experience a bit of stress and anxiety as a result of chasing after acceptance and love.
It’s amazing how many people in this world sacrifice their own health and well-being in order to make other people happy. (Hello, I did it for years…) And hey, I’m a big fan of giving love to all of the people, but ONLY if you’re own cup is overflowing. Those people-pleasing tendency’s, that dependence on other people’s approval, and the avoidance of rejection or judgement will make you sick.
Please please do one thing for me. Start practicing the word “no”. Boundaries are so important when it comes to getting after your own goals and they are one of the number one reasons we experience anxiety. If you are constantly worried about making everyone else happy, always letting other people dictate your schedule and your life, you will have a very hard time finding your own happiness and you’ll be a hot mess.
Stop checking your phone first thing in the morning. Remove yourself from social media for awhile. Give yourself space to breathe and feel.
Low self-confidence. Those little like/love buttons on social media are a great validation-seeking example in our lives today. That heart-shaped icon just SCREAMS “validate me!” We go on social media and share updates and photos in the hope of getting approval from friends or strangers.
If you consider social media an extension of your identity and get obsessed with waiting for a like or a comment...and feel down about yourself if you don’t, then it can do a number on your self-confidence.
Here’s what you need to know: Your sense of self-esteem actually starts coming from the inside, not from the outside. You are no longer a powerless child, dependent on others, and instead you are a strong adult who can is capable of accepting things about yourself you didn’t before. You’re value doesn’t like in what others think.
Spend some time identifying your unique strengths and interests that are independent from what you do for others. Detach yourself from acceptance and really create a list that uncovers who you truly are. Cool?
Lack of fulfillment. Maybe you achieve the big goal and you get to the top and you ask, “why am I still not happy?” Or you find yourself saying, “is this is?”
As a culture we don’t set goals or define our success based on our own self identity (though it is getting better). Instead, it’s based on the landscape of our culture that is tangled with rituals, beliefs, habits, and a lot of rules about the “right way” to function in society.
There was a time that survival was the main driver for why we did things, but we no longer need to feel attached to those old survival mechanisms. We’re safe. You can now change your behavior, your false belief systems and begin to live a more fulfilling life.
It’s likely you’ve reached great success and when you got there it didn’t offer you the feeling you were after. So, you looked to the next thing that you “thought” would provide you that feeling without ever stopping to ask yourself what you really want.
What feeling do you want more of? How can you get it?
Consider where you’re at right now…
You can rediscover and reinvent yourself. I know that it can feel daunting and scary, especially if you’ve never really considered what your own goals are for yourself, but it’s also incredibly freeing.
When it comes to establishing new goals for yourself, make sure that it’s in alignment with who you are and it gets you excited (and a little scared)! And, please please identify “why” you want that thing...because your “why” is what will keep you focused on the goal with shit gets HARD. (Roadblocks are always part of the journey).
Whatever you have your identity caught up in, let it go and try to remember for awhile what it felt like to be a kid. Open your brain up to new experiences and have fun, it’s okay to drop the seriousness once in awhile -it’s the best way to learn. So…go experiment and play!
You can spend your entire life chasing after acceptance and validation, always fearful of rejection, or you can start to dial in on what you really want for yourself, who you really are, and create goals that are in alignment with THAT.
I want you to find your purpose. To identify and live out who you truly are, because that will provide you more fulfillment and love than anything external ever could. 💜
P.S. If you enjoyed this post and want to get in on all the fun, join the tribe of high achievers who want to BECOME (healthy) high performers here.