028: You are Not Your Tasks

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We all have mindsets that work against us. This week, Justin shares about one he’s been fighting against: working to feel valuable.

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00:00 Hello and welcome to Process a podcast by Effective Remote Work. My name is Justin DiRose and today we’re talking about you are not your tasks. To kick off this podcast, I wanted to let you know that we are launching a Patreon for Effective Remote Work. What this means for you is that we’re now going to have some pretty cool benefits and pretty cool tiers for people who want to support the podcast, who want to support the community and get access to a special water cooler Discord chat community as well as some bonus content for this podcast and some video content as well. So if that’s you hang tight and I’ll include a link in the show notes to the Patreon campaign.

00:47 On to today’s topic. I’ll be completely honest, today’s episode is a bit of a zinger for me. In a recent conversation with some friends, I fully realized that have been tying my own value to my level of accomplishment or activity.

01:02 Ouch. I thought I had been pretty intentional not to find myself in that kind of a place, but apparently there’s been this mindset and belief somewhere inside that’s been driving me to want to perform for others to feel valuable and in fact as a reflect on my past jobs, I’ve found myself the most dissatisfied when I wasn’t moving or had clarity on what I should be doing next. I felt scared that I wasn’t going to be of use or value when I wasn’t contributing as much as I felt like I should. This episode is probably going to be more of a thought process and experiment than an outlined set of steps and strategies to help you change this, but I really just wanted to share what’s going on with me because I guarantee you’ve probably faced something like this in the past or maybe somebody that you know has.

01:51 There’s a business and leadership coach I used to listen to named Chris LoCorto and he would always say as a tagline to his podcast: business is what you do, not who you are. And to think of that it’s so true. What we do is never who we are but often the reverse is true. What we do comes from who we think we are, so as in my case, when I’m trying to work for my own personal value, I’m thinking my work is the source of my value. Yikes. Right? And that means the reception of my work or the quality of my work reflects my own state of personal value. That’s a really dangerous place to live. Just think if you were wanting to make something from this mindset, you’d probably handle it a couple of different ways. Either you wouldn’t make it because you didn’t want to let others diminish your value by not liking it, or you’d make it and fail and then feel completely crappy about yourself and maybe never create something again or you would make it and succeed and reinforce your own feelings of value being based on your success.

02:57 Honestly, I’m looking at all of this. I think a mindset like this is ultimately where fear of failure comes from. Fear of failure is probably the biggest thing that holds people back from being truly successful. There are probably billions of amazing things that have not been created because people were too scared of failing because they associated failure with their value as a person. I know I’ve hesitated on making certain things myself for that exact reason. What are people going to think about it? What are people going to say? Is it going to be good enough? I’ve put songs out there and have had like five people download them. I’ve done other things like that. I’ve had like countless blogs in the past, but the truth is that there’s value in creating, there’s value in making things. There’s value in you being you, and we’ll talk a little bit about that in a second.

03:58 There’s a lot of people out there too that just say, well just push through. Be intentional. That intentionality and grit may be the answer to some of these problems, but unless you deal with the mindset of where your value comes from, you’re going to be fighting against that the whole way. As I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t really have an easy magic bullet solution for this and that’s the hard part. Instead dealing with this kind of a mindset takes work. Ultimately it takes remembering the reality of who you are. You are human being and regardless of what you do, you have value and worth just because you exist. Sometimes it takes friends to remind me of this like my friends did. Sometimes it takes failing, having it hurt and realizing people still care about you afterward and I’m not talking about Internet friends and people who follow you on social media. I’m talking about the people closest to you in your life. If a failure changes someone’s viewpoint of your value, say you put something out on the Internet, people on the Internet don’t like it, which happens 99.9% of the time. That doesn’t change the value of what you’ve made or the value of you. In fact their change of viewpoint on you and your value as a result of that as if 100% on them and it’s probably a sign of some issues that they have going on too.

05:33 In the productivity world, it’s really easy to get wrapped up in tasks, goals, projects, ideals, systems, habits, things that need to be done, but to what end, why are we doing those things? If we’re not pursuing something that means something to us, we’re probably pursuing it because it means something to someone else and usually it’s because we’re trying to please that person, whether it’s a parent or boss, a friend, a coworker, somebody who has authority over us and generally pleasing someone else is essentially finding our value in what we do. There’s a difference between doing something for somebody because we want to please them to get our own sense of self value from them and actually serving someone and doing something for someone because we value them. But a lot of times, I know myself included, I’d try to do things because I’m scared. I don’t want to upset somebody else. I want to make sure that everything’s AOK.

06:45 So just something to consider when we’re looking at these mindsets that often drive us to do things. And honestly, even if something is meaningful to us, but we’re pursuing it because we want to get our worth out of it. Hey, I want to launch this big app and become successful and famous because of it. Well, okay, like where’s your value coming from there. And when we get into that mindset, we’re being our own worst enemy. Ultimately, I just wanted to encourage you today that before you pick up your phone, check off your next task, worry about that next big project coming up or dream about that next big goal. Remember, you are not the sum of your accomplishments. You are not your tasks, complete or incomplete. You are not the failed project. You’re not defined by or valued by the outcome of your work. Instead, start to chase the desirable things in life because you see the value in yourself because it’s there. It’s always there and it’s always been there. Ultimately, you have something to give to this world. You have something to give to the company that you’re a part of. You have something to give to the family that you are a part of and it isn’t to get any kind of value from them. It’s about to provide value from the place of knowing that you’re valuable.

08:35 All right, so I know this episode was a little touchy feely doesn’t really hit on like effective remote work so to say, but as a remote worker it’s something that I wrestle with sometimes and it’s something that I’m actively working through another deeper level of it in my life and I just wanted to highlight that to you and say, hey, we all have got struggles, we’ve all got things that we’re working through in our lives. We’ve all got these mindsets that sometimes work against us, but there’s hope. There is a way through this and oftentimes it comes through your community. Oftentimes it comes through people who are invested in you and even though I don’t probably necessarily know you personally, I just wanted to tell you that you’re valuable and remember that cause you are

09:32 Well, that’s all for this time. If you want to join in on the discussion for this episode, or if you want to connect with other remote workers looking to grow in their effectiveness, head on over to the Effective Remote Work Community at community.effectiveremotework.com. If Twitter’s your thing, you can find me at @justindirose, and the podcast and community @effectiveremote. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show at podcast.effectiveremotework.com. Lastly, if you like this show, rate us on iTunes or recommend us on Overcast! My name is Justin DiRose and join me next time on Process.

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Our self worth can sometimes be accidentally attached to the car we drive, the job title we have, and the projects/tasks that we are working on.

I’ve also felt that strange sense of disconnect and insecurity when my projects and tasks aren’t clearly defined either. My raison d’être (reason for being) gets lost when I can’t understand why I’m doing something. Doing the weekly review can help me clarify and get back on track.

But I also am slowly realizing that I should also maintain a life outside of work instead of my life being all about the work. It’s hard when there are demands as a remote worker from my client projects, walk-in customers, and demands from other people all fighting for my attention.

I’m at my happiest when I can sit down during dinner and enjoy conversation with my friends and family without the stress of my projects and tasks shouting at me to get them done.

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It’s amazing how helpful the weekly review can be.

However it’s important to remember to not make that just a checklist to complete, too! Otherwise we’ll only continue in the same cycles we’ve been stuck in already.

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