"Ta-Da!": celebrating small wins instead of burning out

I'm excited to share the third post in the Becoming Confident Series with you all today! One aspect of subjective perfection that has been the hardest for me to overcome is increasing my self-confidence. So I'm featuring a series of posts dedicated to methods and steps I've used to do just that! To read the other posts in this series, click here

I came across an article last week from Fast Company about why millennial women are burning out more than their male counterparts. As a woman at the upper end of the millennial generation, I try to find and read these types of articles often - I want to know what is causing my peers to burn out, and I want to know how I can prevent it from happen to me. As I read the article I couldn't help but sympathize with some of what they were describing. I often feel like I'm in a work environment that is constantly connected, especially now that I work from home. Also, like others my age, I too have struggled with feeling uncertain about my future and my career path. 

When experiencing those feelings of uncertainty or struggling to compartmentalize work, I find myself drawn to writing out to-do lists. I feel like if I can capture exactly what it is I need to accomplish, I can find the path to making it happen. 

I will admit that I have always been a list maker - pros and cons to help me make a big decision; the items I need to pick up when I run to the grocery store; or the tasks I need to complete each day, week, or month to stay on top of a project. Even in my goal setting process I try and identify what I can check off as I move toward in achieving monthly and annual goals. But as much as I try to keep these to-do lists relegated to the pages of my planner, sometimes it doesn't take long before they are running through my mind all. day. long. 

Somewhere in the middle of the to-do lists I forget what my original motivations were. I lose focus and begin to compare myself to others: my coworkers, friends, fellow bloggers that I only see online. I try to force more and more things into my to-do lists in order to keep up with what they appear to be doing. Eventually I end up overwhelmed, looking at someone else at the same life stage wondering, "Gosh! She can do that... why can't I?" What comes next is a loss of confidence and the beginnings of burnout. 

Not being able to recognize our individual capacity is something that I think contributes to women experiencing these feelings of uncertainty, comparison, and burnout. My capacity is different than that of my coworkers, or my friends, or those other bloggers. Not recognizing those differences in capacity makes me less comfortable and less confident. 

To become more aware of how I am impacted by lower confidence and burnout I've begun making two lists each day in my planner. I'm sticking with my to-do lists (because they really do help) but I'm also making what I like to call "ta-da" lists.

Some of my to-dos and ta-da's from last week. The lists aren't very long, but they remind me of the small breaks I took in my day to focus on myself instead of what I needed to do.

Some of my to-dos and ta-da's from last week. The lists aren't very long, but they remind me of the small breaks I took in my day to focus on myself instead of what I needed to do.

What are "ta-da" lists? Well, they are a list of all the things I do in a day that help me to take a break or slow down for a bit. These items can be as simple as reading part of a book before bed, going swimming with Kurt in the pool at our apartment complex during my lunch hour, or sending an encouraging message to a friend. By taking time to slow down and be easier on myself throughout the day, I can effectively stop my to-do lists from interrupting, even for a short period of time. Instead of focusing on the to-dos that are still left to be done, I'm able to focus on the present moment and enjoy a change of pace. Additionally, if my to-do lists aren't taking over, I'm able to recognize the good work that I do when it happens and increase my self-confidence.

I will admit that writing down these "ta-da" list items seemed silly at first. But when I got into the habit of recording all that helped me "tune out" work for a little bit each day, I found that I was able to engage with my work in a completely different, more refreshed way. And if being intentional in celebrating small wins each day is going to be a big step in maintaining my confidence and ensuring I don't burn out, then I am all for continuing to make those "ta-da's" happen! 

I'd love to know - do you ever have those feelings of burnout in your current environment? What impact do "to-do" lists have on you, and how do you identify your small wins each day? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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