I was recently in Montreal with my husband (on another awesome escape room vacation!) and overheard an interesting tidbit from some conference attendees at the hotel we were staying at. First off – I’m very excited about my 2019 goals because both my husband and I have decided to compile all of our lessons learned from doing so many escape rooms and turn it into a book, speech, and online course. So look for that debuting at the end of 2019.
Back to the conversation I overheard (or rather just a tidbit of it). As we were walking past a few of the attendees at a mortgage conference to get to our next escape room experience, a gentleman was explaining mortgage culture to another and I heard him say that Americans have been taught to spend to the level that they get approved for a home mortgage. That seemingly innocuous comment got me really thinking about the American culture (and I am sure that there are others like this) and it is so true – we like to take things to the limit, rather than leaving a little wiggle room. Get approved for a $400,000 mortgage? We go look for a $400,000 home. We have $2,000 a month extra in our paychecks, we generally use that to live in the nicest place we can afford or drive the nicest car we can afford. Some of us are very good at living well within our means, but most of us aren’t.
Let’s change directions here a little bit and look at how this applies to us superachievers, no matter what culture we come from. As superachievers we tend to do stuff because we can – we have goals we want to accomplish after all – but we don’t always stop to think whether or not we should go after them. Here’s a recent personal example that really brought this home for me. Somehow I got a small fracture in one of my neck vertebrae along with a dissection in the artery next to it. Even my doctors are baffled at how this could have happened without me having any type of trauma to the area. I thought I had a torn muscle that didn’t want to heal – which is what brought me to the doctor in the first place. Thankfully, I have a great doctor who identified that something else might have been going on.
As a superachiever, as I was sitting in the hospital waiting for an MRI, my biggest concern was whether or not I would make it to my speaking gig at a women’s retreat the next morning. I guess it didn’t sink in that I technically had a broken neck and a torn segment within an artery that feeds life-giving blood to the back of my brain. When I was discharged from the hospital, the consensus was that I needed to take it easy to allow myself time to heal; however, I wouldn’t have to wear a neck brace. I was taking a simple pain reliever so my neck wouldn’t hurt and I went on with my speaking gig and regular schedule to include international travel, more speaking gigs, leadership training, escape rooms, working with my personal trainer at the gym, and even a ropes course (although it wasn’t a big one.)
About six weeks later, I forgot to take my pain medication for a couple of days and found that my neck was still hurting. What was that about? It should have been healed! So I went back to the doctor and got more tests done – it turns out that the fracture in my neck had increased in size and the artery was torn even more, leading to a narrower gap for blood to flow up to my brain. Holy crap! Because I felt fine and I could do all of the things that I regularly do, I kept doing them. I found myself really having to slow down and give my neck time to heal – even if it doesn’t hurt – so I don’t have a stroke at 44 years old. Good news is – I did and I am now healed!
So the moral of my story, or should I say my stupidity, is just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I’m just kidding about the stupidity part – everything is a lesson. This is one I had to learn and I hope that if you haven’t learned it yet that you are taking my lesson to heart so you don’t have to experience it yourself. Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you should buy it. Just because you can go after that promotion, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can physically do it, doesn’t mean you should. Rather, take some time to think about if it is something that you truly desire to do – something that would make you happy and something that wouldn’t injure you (or others) further. By injury – I mean physically, mentally, emotionally, and so on.
Alright superachievers – your call to action today is to carefully examine the decisions you are making in all areas of your life – because just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.