This blog post is a deviation from what I normally write about. Like half of London, I’m sick right now, which is perfect timing given everyone's rush to get things done before Christmas.
My major goals at the moment are growing my career through my job as a behavioural designer and personal branding, improving my poetry, keeping my amazing friends and staying healthy.
Once you’re sick, it’s not really something you can change, even with medication you’re not in top form. I’ve been lucky my boss Denise has encouraged me to rest, but I struggle to not do work because I want to contribute and show my value. I know this mindset came from experiences in America where people aren't given the benefit of the doubt they're actually sick. I try, but I still haven't shaken the paranoia that people think I'm lying when I say I'm sick.
Let's talk about my last goal. This week I’m really sick and tired (not because of anything, in particular, it’s just flu season). I spent the weekend with a fever and I’m working at half capacity. I haven’t made a good Tik Tok in over five days, I haven’t written a single poem, I have severe brain fog and haven’t left my house without a good reason because I’m too tired.
Being sick has made me address my anxiety over not working as much and question why I'm chasing my goals in the first place. For my personal projects like Tik Tok and poetry, I keep trying to tell myself it’s going to be ok, and it will be. It’s difficult though because the truth is if I don’t do the work on my goals, no one is going to do it for me, but being tired and lacking energy has made me realise a shift in my motivation.
I thought my goals were just for me, but being sick made me realise how often I get rewarded for them. As people, we aren’t normally the best at figuring out what motivates our decisions and our behaviour, and when rewards are introduced to things we were intrinsically motivated by, it rewires our brain to seek external validation (1).
I started off having fun and experimenting with different marketing ideas and behaviour design techniques. Hobbies like my blog I started to expand my network, learn new things and hold myself accountable for new learning. Most of the time I love it, but this week it has felt horrible and I’ve been disappointed in myself because I miss getting praise from other people. Reflecting on my attitude, I need to dial back and focus on my health.
Keeping my promises
I think it’s that last part- the part about being accountable that gets me in trouble sometimes. I want to be someone consistent and reliable because that’s how I like other people to treat me. I hate breaking my word, especially to myself, but in my effort to remain consistent, I’ve broken other promises to myself like accepting my imperfections, talking to myself like I’m talking to my best friend and the promise to let myself rest when I need it.
Two out of three of these promises are always within my control without compromising any of my goals, and it’s an empowering thing to remember. I’m going to take the next few days to be extra kind to myself and chill out with the attitude that anything opportunity costs to prioritise my health are worth it.
I know I’m not the only one sick right now, and if you lean towards perfectionism like I do, it may be frustrating to feel like you’re not at 100%, but it’s just a part of life. I’m on the upswing and starting to get my health back- but like an athlete coming back from an injury, I'm going to make sure I come back slow so I can come back strong. I hope if you're sick you get the chance to take care of yourself and get well soon.
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I post blogs for curious people every Wednesday at 9:00am.
In next week's blog I'll give tips on how to change behaviour long term based on behavioural design principles
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