It never ends!

There seems to be no end to work, learning, personal development, and more. I invested a significant amount of money in therapy only to arrive at these seemingly obvious conclusions. The answer was right there within my grasp, in plain sight every day, but it took years to surface in both my consciousness and subconsciousness. During one of my therapy sessions, I erupted in frustration, exclaiming to Ewa Baszun (my therapist), ‘IT WILL NEVER END.’ In that moment, I felt a profound sense of hopelessness pulling me into a dark void. It took some time to recover from this sudden realization.

Tina Turner sings about this very discovery in the song she recorded for ‘Brother Bear,’ a Disney fairy tale I know by heart, including its lyrics. Only now do I truly understand what it’s about. It’s astonishing how we can listen and still fail to comprehend, observe without seeing the obvious.

Every corner we turn only leads to another
A journey ends but another begins

Due to various childhood experiences and my inherently orderly and methodical personality, complete with tables and checklists, I tend toward obsessive and perfectionistic behavior. It’s no surprise that sometimes, instead of focusing on the ‘why’ of a task, my energy gets channeled into its execution so I can check it off my list. It brings an indescribable sense of relief. While this trait is highly desirable for project implementation and management, it doesn’t always serve me well in direct client work. Every day, I have a need to create and build. I’m incredibly patient and can work on the same task for months as long as it leads to progress.

My logical personality combined with my knowledge in personal development and well-being enabled me to craft a meticulous daily, weekly, monthly, and multi-year schedule, all aligned with my goals. These goals are focused on health, balance, harmony, and success. Still, something seemed amiss. Subconsciously, I was perpetuating a few toxic behaviors that hindered my complete realization of my objectives. I couldn’t pinpoint what was going wrong. Try searching for something you can’t even name—it’s a genuine ordeal.

Why did this happen? Well, if we fail to recognize and understand the deeper, subconscious learned patterns and beliefs that drive and guide us, even the most well-thought-out plans and schedules can remain unrealized. Subconsciously, we sabotage them with increasingly creative excuses. This self-work demands a substantial effort, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Let’s tap into the knowledge of others in this field and channel our energy into a deep understanding of ourselves and working through our inner issues.

Once again, they sang about this in the fairy tale ‘Brother Bear,’ just a few lines away from the quote mentioned earlier. And here I am, feeling somewhat blind and deaf.

Give us wisdom to pass to each other
And give us strength so we understand

But what exactly was my problem? Often, my daytime schedule was disrupted, and work occupied an equal share of my time compared to other activities. It’s normal to work, and I’m not suggesting that we should stop working, expecting money to miraculously fall from the sky. On the other hand, I won’t peddle the passive income theory that has led many into unimaginable debt instead of financial freedom. Work is an integral part of human life, offering measurable benefits beyond financial gains. However, it should not take precedence over our well-being, family, friends, health, or hobbies. So, why, despite knowing all this and having a plan and schedule, couldn’t I break the habit of working overtime and prioritizing work above all else?

For unknown reasons, my subconscious had programmed the idea that I could only go home when I had completed ‘everything,’ meaning the tasks assigned for the day plus clearing my inbox of incoming messages. I usually planned tasks for each day on Saturday, covering the entire week. In the mornings, over coffee, I updated tasks, their order, and priorities. The reason I kept working late was that I failed to account for the fact that in ongoing customer service, new inquiries kept coming in. Customers wanted to expand and modify their websites, stores, create applications, or implement system changes, and these required updates. Furthermore, after updates, other components might not be fully compatible, and new audiences emerged. While in the morning, I could calmly focus on checking off completed tasks, from 9 to 10, as others woke up and began their professional work, emails and phones started ringing. Even if I didn’t answer or reply immediately, it disturbed my peace of mind because I knew something remained unchecked and unfinished, so I addressed it. Then, I returned to the task list, but it was already two hours later, resulting in delays, sometimes by as much as two additional hours.

Each time, I convinced myself that it was just a particularly busy day and that order would be restored tomorrow. It was wishful thinking because it never ended—phones continued to ring, and new emails kept pouring in. To illustrate the absurdity of this situation, consider that many companies, especially startups, dream of this situation—customers calling and writing in without the need for acquisition efforts. What others dream of had turned into my everyday nightmare. They say, ‘Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it, but you might not like it”. Even now, as I write this article, my problem seems bizarre, but it was real and had a detrimental impact on my daily life. So, what did I do? I began planning time slots for unexpected emails and phone calls, about 2-3 hours a day. But if they weren’t scheduled, I had no idea how long they would take, and I still couldn’t finish my work day on time. I thought I was losing my mind until a sense, both conscious and subconscious, emerged that it would never end—seriously. Acceptance and understanding eventually dawned on me, allowing me to leave work even if I hadn’t responded to all the emails or cleaned my inbox. I could have acted this way from the beginning because, apart from critical issues like server failures or the store being down, which demanded immediate attention, none of the customers expected an instant response. There was an unwarranted compulsion to clear the inbox and check off all the tasks in my head. Until I grasped this and worked on it, I was fatigued by my daily life, choosing overtime voluntarily, prioritizing work, and wanting to change it, but somehow, it didn’t work out.

As you can see, perfectionism can manifest not only in the constant pursuit of upgrading and improving the tasks at hand. Personally, I stopped fretting over minor imperfections long ago, realizing that perfection is unattainable. However, I didn’t foresee that my perfectionism would manifest in my desire to tidy up everything that appeared during the day, believing that only with a clean slate and completed tasks could I allow myself to go home.

How does your perfectionism manifest? Were you aware that the journey of self-improvement, development, and learning never truly ends? Relax and take a break instead of endlessly chasing a goal that might forever elude you—just like cats can never catch a laser light; it will keep evading them, and they’ll keep chasing it

Organize your life.

The first publication in the Untold product series, created to share methodology for organizing everyday life, cultivating systematic discipline, and developing proper habits. Drawing from the author's experience, knowledge, beliefs, and commonly available coaching tools, she aims to inspire you to take action and present you with a straightforward approach to achieving fulfillment and building self-esteem. Written in a simple way, it contains examples from everyday life, practical tips, exercises, and beautiful graphics. Available in e-book and audiobook.

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