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What to Do If You’re Not Fulfilled by Your Accomplishments

photo: slgckgc on flickr

photo: slgckgc on flickr

Does the following scenario sound familiar?

You’ve achieved something really awesome. And you know you’re supposed to feel good about it. And you do. For a little while.

But then something else kicks in. Something squirrely.

photo: Tomi Tapio K on flickr

photo: Tomi Tapio K on flickr

Like a squirrel, this feeling is jittery and in constant motion. It prevents you from truly enjoying your accomplishment. Even worse, it drives you to try and achieve even more, hoping maybe that will make you feel better.

Anyone with me here? Or am I the only squirrel in the room?

photo: Sheila Rosamond on flickr

photo: Sheila Rosamond on flickr

My most recent encounter with my inner squirrel went like this:

Every week day, I have a morning routine that I love. First I wake up. (Yay!)

Then I go for a walk and do my affirmative prayer practice. (Again, yay!)

Then I come home, take a shower, get some food, and head into my office. (Yay yay yay!)

Once in my office, I sit at my computer and write for two hours. (Yay times infinity!)

infinity done

Writing is one of my favorite things in the world. When I’m writing, time disappears. I feel like I’m floating in a vast space of creativity and awesome-ness. I’m totally free and alive. It’s amazing.

What’s not amazing is what was happening after my writing practice.

When I was finished for the day, I’d get up from my desk and take care of things around the house. Things like cleaning the kitchen and taking out the garbage.

In spite of what some of you may be thinking, the problem was not the dishes or the garbage.

The problem was what was happening in my head.

Up until the end of my writing practice, every part of the day had been filled with Yay! Not a worry in sight.

But every day, after I wrote, I would find myself reviewing what I achieved that day. What the outcome of my writing time had been.

As I did this, I found that I didn’t feel satisfied. Maybe for a second I did. But then something else entered the scene.

Something with a bushy tail and a penchant for nuts.

photo: Ian Sane on flickr

photo: Ian Sane on flickr

I kept trying to review what I’d accomplished in an attempt to feel satisfied, but it didn’t work. My mind started scurrying around, faster and faster. Chasing its tail and spazzing out all over the place.

And then, in the middle of my squirrel frenzy, a thought popped in my head.

Why don’t you list what you appreciate about the day so far?

My little squirrel mind stopped in its tracks.

photo: andrew wales on flickr

photo: andrew wales on flickr

Just like that, I ceased my scurrying and started focusing on appreciation instead.

One by one, I listed all the things I appreciated about my day. Interestingly enough, this list included things I had accomplished during my writing practice. But now, instead of merely trotting out my achievements and expecting myself to be satisfied by them, I was basking in appreciation.

Not only that, I wasn’t only focusing on my accomplishments. My achievements were part of a long list of all kinds of things to appreciate.

It was a small shift. But it was a profound one.

Moving to appreciation allowed me to feel satisfaction with everything, including what I’d accomplished during my writing time.

When I was in squirrel mode, I was operating under the assumption that my accomplishments, in and of themselves, were supposed to make me happy. When that didn’t work, I tried milking them, reviewing them in my head again and again, sure that one of these days I’d feel fulfilled.

But my squirrely behavior didn’t work. Yes, it did leave me with a big, bushy tail and stash of nuts.

photo: Alan Cleaver on flickr

photo: Alan Cleaver on flickr

But it also left me feeling exhausted and unsatisfied.

Now, whenever I find myself retreating into Squirrel Mode, I take a breath and ask myself: What is there to appreciate?

I like to list as many things as I can. And I like to say them out loud.

So now, instead of jumping around like a crazed squirrel, I’m cruising around with a big grin on my face, talking to myself.

I may not be a squirrel anymore, but I’m still nuts!

photo: Dawn Huczek on flickr

photo: Dawn Huczek on flickr

How do you tame your inner squirrel? Share your comments below!

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14 Responses to What to Do If You’re Not Fulfilled by Your Accomplishments

  1. Tracy Stewart February 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    Thanks a bunch of nuts for this one. Where did you get all those photos of me doing my thing when nobody’s looking? Yes my inner squirrel gets pretty squirrelly sometimes. I so appreciate YOU for reminding me to go to appreciation when I can’t seem to feel satisfied with my accomplishments.
    Hugs,
    Tracy

    • Z Egloff February 20, 2014 at 10:12 am #

      Hi Tracy!!

      Hello from Orlando! Melissa says Hi too. Glad that you enjoyed the squirrelly post. I was amazed to find so many pictures of me as well – I think we both look pretty photogenic, if I do say so myself. Again, trying to find something to appreciate! :) Thanks for your comment.

      XOZ

  2. Karen February 19, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    I love the apropos squirrel pics — all the more so because since we got our puddy tat, Cindy Lou Who, and gave her screened-in porch privileges, all the neighborhood squirrels crawl around the screen, taunting and sassing her. Cindy couldn’t do a darn thing about it except bat the air at them until she somehow found a break somewhere in the screen. Now the squirrels aren’t quite so eager to provoke her, I’ve noticed. They’ve gone on about their business, gathering nuts & not looking to the left or right.

    Appreciation…it just simply works wonders. Whether it’s squirrel mode or monkey mind or hound dog blues, appreciation is a terrific antidote. It lifts us up from wherever we are and puts us on the path to bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed once again.

    • Z Egloff February 20, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      Hi Karen,

      I’m in your home turf today – in a convention in Orlando!

      Glad to hear that Cindy Lou Who is being kept so busy – and that she found a way to keep the squirrels in line.

      One of the reasons is that Lucy is my guru is that she seems to find a way to keep everything in line. And appreciation is certainly one of the best ways to do that. I appreciate appreciation!!

      Happy Thursday!

      XOZ

      • Karen February 20, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

        Wowsers, Z, I bet you’re at the ministers’ conference in Orlando! One of my friends, Waukena Cuyjet, now in L.A., was going to be helping with the mobile bookstore there at the conference and had invited me to put in some flyers about my e-books. As it turned out, Waukena wasn’t able to attend the conference (and I’m in Houston right now), but several other friends were going and were expecting a terrific gathering. :)

        • Z Egloff February 20, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

          Yes, it’s the minister’s convo. We’ve been having a groovy time. We tend to hang with Centers for Spiritual Living crowd, so I suspect that I will run into some of your friends sooner than later!! :)

  3. Sherry February 20, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Wow – you are in Orlando today? You should have let me know. We could have met for coffee or something. Well, that probably wouldn’t have happened since I am at work all day but – I really mean the sentiment.

    I like this blog of yours today. I am a Perfectionist and I am always beating myself up for not accomplishing enough. The truth is, I accomplish more than a lot of people I know.

    I think I will take your advice and instead of thinking of all the things I haven’t accomplished at the end of each day, I will revel with appreciation what I did accomplish.

    Thanks, again!

    • Z Egloff February 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

      Hi Sherry!

      We’ve been having a blast here in Orlando – though a lot of it has been indoors, as many conferences are. I appreciate the “meet for coffee” sentiment!

      Let me know how it goes with the appreciation practice. For me, it seems to really get me out of the “never enough” mode!! :)

      XOZ

  4. Carey Lee February 20, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    Thank you Z, for your humor, insite, & wisdom! I always feel better after reading your stuff! Today started off being one of “those” days, but I made a call to a client(Im a care~giver). He said I could come over & put in a few hours, which he’s not always up for. Even though I don’t make a huge amount of money, caring for sick, elderly folks who really appreciate the little things, usually makes me feel like Ive accomplished something meaningfull. Unless, my squirrel gets the best of me, then I jog, do affirmations, & look forward to tomorrow, or start over…as many times as I need to!( my squirrel is really stubborn sometimes) :-) :-) :-)

    • Z Egloff February 25, 2014 at 11:32 am #

      Hi Carey,

      Nice to see you here! :)

      That’s wonderful that you have a job that allows you to tap into the appreciation vibe. I like that you use jogging as a way of getting back on track. For me, walking often does the trick. And affirmations. And starting over the next day, like you say, is also a wonderful technique.

      Stop by again any time!

      XOZ

  5. Julia February 20, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    After a very difficult & frustrating day I saw your e-mail & read your post.
    I just wrote out a long gratitude list. You are at the top of it.

    Thank you for helping me refocus onto all of the good things in my life.
    Julia

    PS The squirrel pictures got me laughing & that was needed today too!

    • Z Egloff February 25, 2014 at 11:34 am #

      Hi Julia!

      And now you are on the top of my gratitude list for putting me on the top of your gratitude list!

      One of my favorite things about other people is that we can constantly remind each other that everything is okay. So thank you for your comment – it’s a good reminder for me. :)

      XOZ

  6. squirrel February 21, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    you know i can’t let this one pass by without chiming in. you tryin’ to tell me something?? 😉

    i, too, refocus my attention (well, when i remember) on the good in my life. it is becoming more and more frequent that i remember, and bring myself back to center. yesterday something happened, i got REALLY angry, threw a 5 minute tantrum, and moved on. progress, not perfection…my tantrums used to last DAYS…

    hope you’re enjoying yourself in florida! safe travels home when it’s time.

    xos

    • Z Egloff February 25, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      Squirrel!!!!

      I was thinking of you when I wrote this post. I mean, how could I not be?

      I was pleased that flickr had so many photos of you. LOTS to choose from! You are very photogenic.

      “Progress, not perfection” is such a beautiful reminder. Especially when the inner squirrels come out to play.

      Been back from Florida for a few days now, but I’m just starting to really return. So thank you for the good wishes. :)

      XOZ

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