Elizabeth Grace Saunders, founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training, recently explained how this can become a problem for normally high-functioning people. "You being "so good" yesterday … made you feel justified in being a “little bit bad” today," Saunders wrote in a recent post in 99U.
It's similar to the way that some people think about food and exercise. For example, on days they've met their fitness goals, they might feel more deserving of an extra slice of cake after dinner.
The problem with this, Saunders says, is that whether you're making unhealthy food choices or slacking off at work, you're not moving any closer to your long-term goals. In the work context, Saunders has seen people get down on themselves for breaking even, and as a result they binge on work. Then the whole cycle starts all over again.
Saunders offered some tips inspired by psychologist Kelly McGonigal for breaking the recurring habit. Here's what she recommends:
1. Eliminate the question "How good have I been?" from your thinking.
It's not very productive to keep score because it encourages you to achieve equilibrium. Your real objective is to move forward with your long-term goals. Instead, consider your goal and ask yourself why you set out to achieve it in the first place.
After asking this question, you might find out it's really not all that important to you. But it's more likely you'll remind yourself just how much you really do want to achieve your goal.
2. Remember: you're not a lazy person who happens to be super productive every now and then.
It's likely the other way around. Recognizing this will help you stay on your productivity run for the long-term. "Working on your portfolio, staying ahead of a project, or updating your website won’t be something that you have to do, but something you want to do because you’re a creative professional who is committed to developing your career," Saunders said.