I’ve read a lot of self-help books–so many that I’ve largely stopped listening to them now, because I rarely hear anything new.
This one was new.
My brother, a high achiever himself, told me about this one and said that it’s been a game-changer for him. It’s definitely very common for type-A high achievers to always look at how far short they’ve fallen from their ideal (or especially in kids, from someone else’s ideal), rather than how much they actually have achieved. By definition, an ideal is never reachable, so this approach is a recipe for discouragement. Still, the tendency to focus on the ideal is termed “perfectionism,” and it’s considered a personality trait, not something modifiable. Sullivan (and Hardy) argue that it is indeed modifiable, and with a simple frame-shift: simply measure how far you’ve come (the gain), not how far you have yet to go (the gap).
While that’s a simple statement, the rest of the book gives practical examples of how to do this, not just once, but as part of an ongoing lifestyle. I don’t usually consider myself a perfectionist, but my focus is usually also how far I have yet to go to achieve my self-determined goals. It takes a conscious effort to look at what I actually have done, and it really is uplifting to do so.
My favorite chapter in the whole book was toward the end, though. I’ve heard about “miracle mornings” ad nauseum, and my mornings are already as structured as they can be, so there’s nothing else I can really do there. But Sullivan/Hardy wrote about taking the last few minutes of each day, not long, to write out your three wins for that day, and your projected wins for the next day. I love this. Often I forget to give myself credit for what I’ve accomplished in a given day… and if I didn’t accomplish what I’d hoped, I can still reframe what I did instead as a “win.” The idea behind setting goals for the next day isn’t for them to be set in stone, but rather, it sets the tone of momentum and accomplishment before you even go to bed. I usually make a list of weekly goals in various categories, and never get to all of them… but this narrows it down further, and gives me a greater sense of intention and purpose when I find myself with a sudden short window of time.
Definitely a worthwhile read.
My rating: *****
Sexual content: none
Political content: none