The “coulda done more” syndrome

How do you respond to the following situation……You accomplish a goal you set out to reach (such as finishing a work project, hitting a milestone on running, winning an award, etc) and someone comes up and says “hey, great job on that!”…..Do you:

a) say a quick thank you and leave it alone

b) say it really wasn’t a big deal

c) say thanks and explain how proud you are too

Well? Which one are you? When I look at these responses I see both the one  I give (b) and the one I want to give (c). You see, I’m one of those people that sees a challenge, tackles it, comes out victorious (now and then haha) and then immediately thinks of what else I could have done. When I respond to praise or congratulations I usually dismiss it altogether (not rudely, but rather trying to be humble). For instance:

“hey mary, good job on your run today! You hit that goal!”

me: “Yeah, but I didn’t run the whole way, and I have a long way to go….”

There it is. Right there. Rather than being proud of reaching my goal, I actually dismissed it altogether and minimized my own accomplishment. But you know what? I am proud of that 5 miles. I am proud of finishing my Masters, and I am really proud of myself for finding a great job. So WHY is it so hard to say “thank you. I worked hard for it so I’m pretty happy”? That’s what I’m thinking in my head, but without fail, every time I open my mouth this dismissive voice pops out minimizing all that I truly worked for. In my head it’s an attempt at humbleness, but in my heart it’s actually taking my motivation down just a little. The feeling of accomplishment slowly slips away and before long my success is a failure.

Well, no more! Responding to this question differently is my new personal goal. I dare you to do it as well….throw away this guise of humility and don’t downplay what you accomplish. If other people can recognize it and congratulate you, the least you can do is congratulate yourself! Now, to be clear, I’m not trying to help anyone sound egotistical or like a braggart. I’m simply suggesting that instead of downplaying those moments, bask in them a little and appreciate the hard work that got you there. Good job Mary, what a beautifully written and inspiring post you just wrote”…..

Why thank you. It’s been running through my mind all day, and I’m glad I could share my thoughts coherently. 🙂


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