I never realized I was a “high achiever”. It wasn’t until I left my corporate career and started working as a Performance Coach with athletes and entrepreneurs that I recognized just how different high achievers are!
Honestly, I thought that everyone worked as hard as I did, but that is just not the case. High achievers have grit, tenacity, and perform at a level that most cannot keep up with. I love everything about high achievers – their fire, their push and their motivating energy. Fueled by motivation and willpower alone, high achievers typically don’t stop long enough to pay attention to the ways they are inhibiting their success. And if they do, it’s only because of a loss, illness or a major failure that forces them to stop.
Ultimately, I’ve come to recognize these few key characteristics that stunt high achievers' performance and keep them from achieving that next level of success.
I get it! Slowing down enough to reflect on these issues is risky. With a 20 year tenure in the construction industry (both entrepreneurial and corporate), I fought tooth and nail to earn my place and prove I was worth it again and again; working nights, weekends, and spending most of my time emulating men.
But my success in this arena has not only come from my ability to apply and hold pressure in a male dominated industry (yes! I can hold my own with the best of them). I know I am a force to be reckoned with because I accept deeply who I am—and that is also a caring, compassionate and intuitive woman.
The cultural tides are shifting, and our society today is opening to both men and women being self-expressed with what feels right for them. This openness creates an exciting opportunity for women to achieve their goals while being more authentically themselves than ever before. But for some of us, in particular the high achievers, we don’t know how to do that.
So, how do we as women show up in this new paradigm, achieve our goals and be in integrity with who we truly are? How do we use our drive as high achievers without getting caught up and in our own way?
In my experience the best anecdote for balancing what you want with who you are is to start changing your patterns in ways that are safe and easy to adopt. Here are the top three ways that I have found help women get out of their own way, find their truth and achieve their goals faster and easier:
One thing high achievers know how to do is work. I worked for fifteen years, barely taking a vacation or incorporating any selfcare into my daily routine. During that time, I had two babies and a goal to build my construction business and sell it. But instead, I found myself in a broken marriage, physically sick, burnt out and completely confused about who I had become. I couldn’t answer some of the most basic questions about myself. Who was I? What do I like to do for fun? What makes me happy?
Back them, work was all I did, and it defined me. The word “play” was not in my vocabulary. Truthfully, I barely even played with my children. When we are always working, we're not allowing ourselves to be in flow with the universe. Being in the state of flow is where time stops, and magic happens. Do you remember when you were a child, and you could “play” for hours until the sun went down? That is play in flow with the universe. It took me two years after my divorce to discover play again. I literally had to force myself to try things that had some fun potential and retrain myself to do it long enough to possibly enjoy it.
We think we don’t have time for play. We have to work harder and more to achieve the never ending to do list. But play is instrumental in achieving our goals because in this state of being we are more connected to the source of our creativity. When we play fear does not exist. It's is the pathway back to our dreams (the reason we work so hard in the first place) and we remember that joy and love is the ultimate goal. When we come back home to this remembering it puts life back into perspective and often sets us back on course or clarifies something that we have been unable to understand in our day-to-day routine. Play keeps us focused. It’s the limitation of play that keeps us stuck, tired and spinning our wheels.
Do you make time to play? What do you like to do for fun? When does time stop for you? If you can’t answer these questions, its time you give it a try. Start with one hour a week. And don’t judge it or do what others tell you to do. Do what feels natural and out of the box. Completely immerse yourself in something you truly enjoy that’s just for you and see what happens.
That’s right, I want you to receive. Learning to receive has literally changed my professional and personal life. When I gave myself permission to receive, it gave others in my life permission to “do”. I didn’t realize that my overdoing was causing people to feel too inadequate to show up in my life. By overdoing, I was also not giving those around me the opportunity to shine and be in their greatness. Once I changed this, my life became so much easier, aligned and fulfilling. I stopped feeling victimized and a need to control the outcome. Do you know what happened next? Everything still got done. People started to show up more and more in my life. I noticed synchronicities and I felt more relaxed and trusting that life was happening for me.
This happened because when we receive, we go within. We listen to our intuition and get to know who we really are. There is so much freedom in receiving. It’s in taking care of ourselves and nurturing our body, mind and spirit that sets us ahead of the game. The practice of receiving is our superpower. It gives us the strength to give and empowers others. It taps us back into our desires so that we can keep going and create our greatest dreams.
So what does it mean for you to receive?
It means that you don’t have to be the one giving and doing all the time! The lens which high achievers see the world has a tendency to put us in a constant state of doing. This state is the masculine, the external giver, the doer. It’s the desire and drive to do and then do some more. When in balance, this is the force that gets us up and in action every day working to achieve our goals. But when out of balance, this drive creates a never-ending cycle of unfulfilling achievements and presents the characteristics mentioned above, like perfectionism, which stops success in its tracks.
Receiving is the feminine quality in all of us. It’s the ability to allow others to do for us. It’s letting go of things out of our control. It is in receiving that we recognize our ability to attract all that we truly desire to us without forcing the outcome. In business, receiving can look like doing your job and allowing others to do theirs. It can look like clearly articulating what you need and then waiting for to happen. It can look like speaking your truth during conflict without the need to be aggressive, forceful or manipulative. Its allowing for situations to unfold and trusting the process.
This has not been thought of as a positive or contributing aspect to achievement in our society, especially for women who are trying to get ahead and compete in a “man’s world” where force and doing more is the primary means of production. Additionally, women have been traditionally taught to be self-sacrificing which makes receiving feel wrong. From receiving gifts and compliments, to choosing selfcare, receiving can feel downright uncomfortable. But that is where we have had it all wrong.
What I found is that high achievers get caught in the concept of cause and effect. Putting everything on their own shoulders thinking that they must do something in order for something else to occur. They think, if they don't do it, who will? This certainly was my belief for most of my life. Success can be found in this model but so can exhaustion, victimhood, overwhelm and boredom.
Dr. Joe Dispenza , New York Times bestselling author and researcher of epigenetics quantum physics and neuroscience says,
“When it comes down to it, there are two ways to approach our lives: either as the victims to our lives, or the creators of our lives.”
When we believe we are the only cause of the good in our lives (e.g. “Im the only one who can get this done.”) we inadvertently put ourselves into “victim” mode! WHAT!?! I know, you’re not a victim. But the logic you are using is. When you do life solo you are only relying on yourself. As a result, you most likely struggle and fight to meet your goals, forcing matter to change matter—e.g. using the sheer will of your determination to overcome what’s already been created. Please note, I did this slaving for 15 years only to find myself blowing up my life, incredibly unhappy, and divorced.
What I later learned is that in order to take the easy route, I had to ask for help—and that starts with asking the universe in daily meditation. The easy route is taking an hour out of your day to mediate in the quantum, choosing the reality that we want and start living as if it has already happened.
I know, I know…. I’ve heard it a thousand times. “I can’t meditate”. Well, I couldn’t either until I discovered the quantum. I read the book “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza and it literally rocked my world. For years I was “manifesting” my life but not sure exactly how I was doing it and quite frankly it was hit or miss. Through my studies, I discovered that I was creating my life by feeling and experiencing my desire before it ever happened. In the quantum, there are infinite possibilities. So, when we meditate we are able to tap into a desired outcome and create it in the 3D. This information gave me, the high achiever, a real solid REASON to meditate with some serious out of the box excitement. But don’t say I didn’t warn you, because quantum meditation will take your life creation game to a whole other level. Be prepared because you will see magic appear right before your eyes.
So what’s the bottom line? It’s time for all of you high achieving workaholics to shift your perspective. I’m not telling you to stop and smell the roses or that it’s not about the end result because you and I both know that we want what we want. I love to work, and I love my fellow high achievers but it’s time to throw the old model out the window and get what you want the easy way.
I want you to think about how you perceive life. Do you think work has to be hard? Do you think that in order to get what you want in life you have to work harder than everyone else, put countless hours in and push to make things happen? If you do, I ask that you consider for a moment that work and life do not have to be hard in order to accomplish goals. I am not saying that there will not be challenges or time when extra effort is needed. I am merely suggesting that the underlying characteristics of perfectionism, fear of failure, living up to impossibly high standards etc do not need to be the driving force behind your life. I am suggesting that there may be a better and easier way to achieve your goals, enjoy it and even work less!
I would love to hear from all of you! Please join me on Instagram @msjuliemcmahon