Jacinda Ardern’s comment about not having “enough in the tank” for the job anymore when she resigned as Prime Minister of New Zealand has been circling in my mind since I heard it. It resonated with me strongly, reminding me of conversations I’ve had as well as changes I’ve made in my own life recently.
I’ve recently had lots of conversations about what success looks like and the pressure we sometimes feel to ‘make the most’ of something.
On the face of it, this seems like a positive thing – who doesn’t want to get as much as they can out of an experience? But this is precisely where things get interesting. What I’ve realised is that there’s often a gap between what we picture as making the most of a thing and what we are actually capable of getting out of it – that is, what we have “enough in the tank” for.
Fixed Idea of Success
I was reminded of a conversation some time ago with a client who had booked a very lovely holiday before developing Post-Viral syndrome. This client had recently taken the Lightning Process training and though his capacity had hugely improved from a low baseline, it was still a work in progress when the date of the holiday arrived.
He had been looking forward to this holiday greatly, but when the time came, he decided not to go – but his friends did. When we discussed his decision, the client explained that he wouldn’t have been able to do some of the things he had planned, and therefore felt he wouldn’t get the most out of the trip. He was then very sad afterwards!
What I found interesting about this client’s decision was that based on the rate of progress, he almost certainly would have enjoyed the holiday – but may have had to sit out a couple of activities. He may not have been able to do all he had originally planned, but he still could have had an amazing time with his friends. What held him back was not PVS, but a fixed idea of a ‘successful’ holiday. By having a binary view of what ‘making the most’ of the experience looked like, he decided not to go and got literally nothing from it.
Adjusting the Idea of Success
I contrast this with the case of a languages student doing their year abroad, which they had been very excited about while planning it. But the year was unexpectedly difficult and they found themselves at the halfway mark experiencing major struggle. They feared they were burning out. This year abroad was an opportunity they felt a lot of pressure to make the most of, but they realised that the expectation of what that looked like – held not just by them but also by the people close to them – was simply more than they were up for. For them, adjusting their idea of what would count as a successful year abroad had a really positive effect: it made the prospect of the second half of the year less daunting and they no longer feared burn-out!
On a more personal note, I recently made the decision to take a long break from practicing law. For many years I have married my legal work and my client work with the Lightning Process training. I was finding it increasingly challenging to do both but the idea of stepping back from practicing law was difficult – the image I had in my head of success was someone who could keep all of these things up, which made accepting the fact that it was keeping me from living the life I loved far from easy. It’s still early days yet, but I’m hopeful that making this choice will give me more time to devote to the things that make me flourish.
What I’ve learnt from these experiences is that sometimes, the best way to ‘make the most of something’ is just to reconsider what that means to you in that moment. Ask yourself, “What do I have enough in the tank for?” and then set your ‘most’ according to that.
If you’re struggling with this, contact us for a chat to find out how we can help you.