If you are part of the GamePlan A community, it’s very likely you are a bit like me. You want to grow. You have a love for learning. You want to unfold your potential and you’re looking for the key to success. You know that it takes effort to do so. You are setting high expectations towards yourself as well as the people you work with. You play to win and it comes naturally that you work hard and hustle your way towards success. No pain, no gain.
The feeling of progress is just unbelievably rewarding.
Can ambition be a bad thing?
Like anything, a growth mindset, dedication and hard work have a flipside, too. They put us in danger of blindly falling into a trap. One that stops us from reaching our full potential and true fulfilment.
Here’s what happens usually before you tap into the “work hard” trap: you’re ambitious and confident, so you set high goals which make you feel slightly uncomfortable. Working towards those goals is an enjoyable process.
At some point you realize the goal is still far away. To achieve it you’ll have to work a lot harder and show some resilience. Clack. You’re trapped.
I bet many of you will be able to relate to some of my own examples:
When I was at the height of my fitness, I lacked gratitude for the status quo. Every workout I pushed harder. With more self-appreciation and joy for the process I would have come further quicker.
When I took part-time parental leave, I became obsessed with optimizing my schedule to balance precious family time and my career. But I totally forgot to plan in some important me-time.
The GamePlan A team can be proud of how far we have come with our mission to inspire business athletes, but the reality is we tend to focus on the untapped potential and how we want to improve.
We often miss the chances to celebrate our progress adequately. What is the sense of success if you don’t celebrate it?
These are just a few examples of falling short by taking it too far. Everybody has their own stories. The good news is that we can get better at avoiding the trap by reading the signs.
Four early signs you’re falling into the trap
- With your eyes on the goal, you forget to appreciate what you or your team have achieved. Nothing feels good enough.
- You’re making compromises in important parts of your personal life. If you don’t know what your best friend is up to these days, you might be trapped.
- You’ve become more self-critical and tense. You’re starting to vent your frustration on others… clack.
- You’re sleeping badly because you work late and start early. Instead of recharging, your brain continues to look for solutions during the night. And when you wake up, the first thing you do is reach for your phone.
So how can we avoid or at least escape this trap?
Four practices for hustlers to unfold their full potential
1. Redefine success
Define what success looks like for you. Don’t look at the different areas of your life separately, rather consider them as one. When doing so, try to let go of how society defines success.
2. Identify, rethink and rewrite your “work hard” doctrines
We need to question the doctrine that nothing in life comes easy (and, hence, needs to be hard). Remember, you get what you think. “Nothing in life comes easy.” Really? Maybe we should rewrite it into “Success can be achieved playfully and with intuition, too”.
Let’s re-formulate “Nothing in life comes for free” to “Some of the greatest things in life are totally free.” Whatever your version of the truth is, write it down.
3. Practice gratitude
Also appreciate the small steps and achievements. Your past accomplishments count something, too. If you disagree, go back to tip 2.
When pressure kicks in, do the counter-intuitive and take a break. Don’t allow your inner hustler to scream “ATTACK” right away. Instead pause and check-in with yourself. Also plan for some playtime.
With this article I am committing to not put my fitness on the backseat anymore. I’ll start with noting down why fitness is truly important to my life.