Is Self-Worth worth It? Living a worthless life as an Achiever.

For a few days now, I’ve been unable to get this question off my mind,

“Is self-worth worth it?”

I have such a long list of things to do. When I check things off my list, I experience a temporary hit of self-worth. Writing this post was not on my list. It’s a tossup as to whether I’ll feel anything at all after I add the finishing sentence.

As I write, I’m listening to “Give it to me, I’m worth it,” just for kicks.

The lyrics go:

Give it to me, I’m worth it

Baby I’m worth it

Uh huh I’m worth it

Gimme gimme I’m worth it

Give it to me, I’m worth it

Baby I’m worth it

Uh huh I’m worth it

Gimme gimme I’m worth it.

These lyrics are by Fifth Harmony and I’m not 100% sure what “IT” is, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want it. Even so, I’ll admit, there’s something very specific I desire, and I spend a lot of time proving to myself and others that I’m worth IT. I generally work pretty hard to stay high on the adrenaline that comes from accomplishing things I intentionally planned to accomplish.

But lately, with the quarantine, and extra time on my hands to think and plan, some part of me keeps wondering if what I lose to my rigid list is worth what I gain in a fragile sense of self-worth that is easily damaged by a missed deadline, an inability to live in the moment, and an almost constant sense of guilt when I’m deviating from a self-imposed plan.

My favorite personality assessment has given me a lens through which I can process my dysfunction of “Achievement toward the aim of self-worth.” The image below explains how the “Achiever” personality style shows up under stress.

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There is nothing wrong with working toward goals, but when you habitually feel a sense of “worthlessness,” while chasing after a nearly impossible standard of achievement, it’s a red flag that you’re not living in the sweet spot of your better personality traits as an “Achiever,” detailed, organized, structured, thorough, and serious.

A deep-seated belief that you need to earn someone else’s love is what often drives this sense of worthlessness. It’s easy to fly under the radar of “She’s just an extremely ambitious person,” rather than accepting that you’re trying to assuage your sense of worthlessness through earning the approval of others.

If you’re still not able to tune-in to your feelings that drive negative behaviors as an “Achiever,” consider how most of your conversations begin with loved ones and colleagues. I almost always begin my conversations with a list of what I’ve accomplished and what I intend to accomplish next. It’s true that I often desire to connect at another level, and that I wish to be affirmed for who I am and not what I accomplish, but it’s a self-protection mechanism to frame up all my relationships transactionally, and this can be a career roadblock and intimacy showstopper.

Not only do I diminish my own self-worth when I operate in this way, but I start to devalue others based on how long their list is and whether I see them checking items off. I’ve particularly faced this dynamic, when dealing with any one of my children who doesn’t follow a methodical approach to accomplishing tasks toward a specific goal. I’m not proud to say, my go-to description of such individuals, is “lazy.”

During quarantine I’ve noticed that my drive to plan writing projects has sky-rocketed and my writing inspiration has been running on a “country road” empty. Unfortunately, it seems as though discipline and inspiration aren’t keen to co-exist when the dark side of my achievement nature kicks in as narrow-minded, inflexible, obsessive, argumentative, and pessimistic.

So, to answer my own question, self-worth is often just not worth it.

We must learn to love ourselves for who we are, not what we accomplish. It isn’t worth it to spend all our time frustrated with feelings of inadequacy. We don’t have to be perfect and it’s possible for someone to love us just the way we are. But more importantly, it’s possible for you to accept and forgive your tendency toward obsessing over productivity in moments of stress like being stuck at home for hours on end with no reprieve in sight.

As an achiever, you’ll accomplish a lot no matter what, but you’ll feel a greater sense of self-worth if you learn to temper your obsessive ambition with those moments of inspiration that call for interrupting your plan and embracing the moment as it is.

Take your free leadership personality assessment here. (Share your results with us in the comments.)

I wasted so much time not putting these thoughts about self-worth on paper because these words were not a part of my writing plan. It seems so silly because as I’m nearing the end of this post, the sense of satisfaction I feel is so much more complete than any feeling I might have had checking one more thing off my list.

When you begin to question your self-worth during this “new normal,” ask yourself if self-worth is really worth it? Remember, your worth isn’t the sum of your achievements.

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