The Four Foot Yardstick

Late last year told me something that turned my life upside-down for awhile. It wasn’t shocking, or worrying, just so thought-provoking that I’ve been moving it back and forth between the front and back burners of my brain since then. She said:

Lisa, you are measuring yourself against a four foot yardstick.

2×4 time, I tell you. She went on to say that she could tell I don’t measure others to that same yardstick, but that my expectations of myself, my standards, my goals, in short: everything was skewed (by 25%).  It means that I don’t give myself enough credit for what I do accomplish, and am always looking for the thing to do next. It means that I always have a sense of failure about myself.

Realism is important — my books aren’t bestsellers, for example — but I am allowed to take pride in what I have accomplished, and I don’t need to compare myself to people who accomplish nothing in order to see a difference.

I’ve never seen a task as ‘beneath me’ and I tend to naturally break down large goals into smaller, more achievable, tasks. These are both hallmarks of someone who can set and achieve realistic goals. But my goals aren’t realistic — they’re inflated by 25%, and I want to achieve them 25% faster. So when I don’t do so, I get (subtly) depressed.

So, I’ve got to go back to basics on this one; it’s clearly a mindset from childhood and its roots are deep and strong. (Also, I’m not sure I want to eliminate it — it’s often a good thing for me.) But I no longer want to have habits and re/actions that are not understood.

I have to ask myself:How did I set this expectation? What was the impetus for setting it? When did I set it? and: What have you done so far?
Just asking the questions will lead me to better understanding of myself and my thought processes. Answering the questions will get me much much further and allow me to begin to consider the true value of the expectations and whether I want to continue to have them, modify them, or discard them.

I’m still going to end up doing more in one day than most people do in several, but at least now I’ll be more directed –and forgiving — in my tasks.

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