If you want to be good at something, how much is too much? As we approach finals week, it’s a good time to think about the importance of pushing ourselves to do well versus the danger of burnout. How do we balance the tightrope between the two? Read on to find out!
DISCIPLINE VS. DESTRUCTION
By Aditi Sheth
If you’ve ever tried to be good at anything that you do, you walk the thin line between discipline and destruction. Most people say that success is 90% hard work, and 10% luck of the draw. But forcing yourself down the path of “pushing to the limit” to reap rewards can have negative consequences on your mental health. The burnt out feeling is almost universal, but I would argue that a completely different but still valid feeling is “discipline destruction,” in which your impossibly high expectations for yourself cause you to neglect your mental health.
As a woman and a woman of color, I am all too aware of the overlapping and intersecting systems that result in the need to please not only yourself, but those around you. It’s easy to listen to the faint whispers of imposter syndrome in your ear as you plan out the trajectory of your life, and take steps to make it happen. What often results is an unhealthy combination of high ambition and low self-esteem.
Ambition is largely regarded as a good thing, and I agree. I think it’s important to set goals work hard to achieve them. However, ambition is a double edged sword. One must consider who they’re setting these goals for, and why, at the core, do they want to achieve them. Would it make you, whoever you are as a human being, extremely fulfilled to become a Counseling Psychologist? Or is that something that you think is expected of you, by others? Ambition should ultimately be a result of the need for personal fulfillment, therefore it’s important to consider the source, and the methods of your hard work.
Disciplining yourself is a great way to get work done. Some of the most highly successful people in the world are extremely disciplined. However, if your hard work causes you to neglect your mental health, doesn’t this directly contradict your internal goal of personal fulfillment? It’s an interesting question, and one that I find myself grappling with often. My advice would be, be a little bit easier on yourself. Expect a lot out of yourself, not because you have to, but because you’re a good and worthy person, capable and deserving of these large goals and ambitions. Don’t forget to put yourself first, however that may be.