Do we actually set ourselves up to fail?

I have been spending a lot of time this week thinking about productivity. There literally isn’t a day goes by when, on Twitter, someone shares that they have had or are having an unproductive day. It happens to us all, right? Those days when things just aren’t connecting. We have lost our mojo. Just cannot quite strike the things off our to do lists. All of which can leave us feeling that the day has been unproductive.

On these days it is highly likely that we will go through a virtual process of beating ourselves up, with negative feelings about our abilities. We will seek solutions to re-find our motivation, probably procrastinate and most certainly have the tidiest houses as we try to avoid said work!  Sound familiar?

Whilst days like these will continue to happen and there are lots of techniques I and others could share around how to re-energise and step back to your work with new motivation, I have also been thinking that perhaps we are also setting ourselves up to fail by the very nature that we are measuring our self-worth by our productivity.

A couple of weeks ago I asked on twitter, ‘beyond financial, what are freelancers other motivations to do the work they do?’ OK, so the responses were limited (hey, anyone out there?) but I have asked around and reasons include a range of things ranging from fulfilment, being able to be creative, being able to have a balance with family life, working for myself, feeling of making a difference.  All these reasons are great and valid motivators.  They are our aims of working, but none of them could be measured by productivity.  Instead they are measurements of self-worth and satisfaction. Of course, I am not naive to the fact that we do have deadlines to meet, after all those bills don’t get paid if we don’t complete our work!  However, most of us deliver the work we do for other reasons that are about our self-worth – our ability to feel satisfied from what we do and these cannot be measured by productivity.  If we only measure our days by productivity then we could be setting ourselves up to fail against why we do what we do!

So, when those unproductive days come again, as they will, do try and reflect about what else you should be measuring your day by. 

Nicola Hughes is a freelancer for over 14 years.  She provides consultancy in service development and improvement and is also a Confidence Coach.

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