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Tough-love Business Coach. Marketing Magician. Inner Imposter Buster. Cocktail Connoisseur. And Queen Of Unpopular Opinions.
Having recently completed a very large project I was caught off guard when I found myself unable to sleep with nightmares about the project despite it being completed and turned over to the client. I didn’t have dreams about it in the last three months when I was in the thick of it, but the very day I turned it over as complete, the nightmares began. I even found myself wrestling with a nap nightmare when I fell asleep on my back deck in the sun one Sunday. Yikes!
Interestingly the dreams are always about a piece of the project being incomplete and they feel so real that I wake up in that place where it feels like I need to jump into action to get it taken care of. Then I realize it was only a nightmare and in fact the project is complete. (I bet a shrink would have a field day with this!)
Letting Go at the Finish
Fortunately the nightmares are starting to disappear and I am starting to understand more clearly what caused this. I think my story may help you sleep more soundly and avoid success nightmares. You see there have been a ton of moving parts in this project, a lot of contractors, a large team to coordinate. I was in charge and in control and while it wasn’t always easy, and definitely not always fun, we did get it done and on time. Once I turned it over, I was no longer in charge, in control, or managing anyone any longer, yet I hadn’t relinquished my intense sense of responsibility. I also wasn’t yet basking in the afterglow of a job well done.
Demons of Doubt
While my client is clearly pleased by the outcome, she isn’t as demonstrative as many I’ve worked with and it can be hard to read her appreciation. I thrive on recognition, accolades, and appreciation, I bet you do to. When this isn’t as obvious as we need it to be, we can find ourselves struggling to make sure we dotted all of our I’s crossed all of our T’s and truly did complete successfully as we thought we did. In essence our subconscious kicks in with that nasty little underminer known as doubt. The second guessing and the what if’s started kicking in.
Getting Past Perfect
This is an enormous waste of my time and energy and yours when it happens to you. I’m learning to let go of what I didn’t do perfectly, accept that the project is complete and successful, and take the valuable lessons away of what I’d do differently next time (including changing a couple of key team members.) I thought that after a full 90 days of going flat out on this, that once I turned it over, I’d just flip a switch to relax and take a bit of time off. So far that hasn’t happened, my subconscious hasn’t been willing to allow me that luxury. Each day gets easier and I’m learning that my satisfaction has to come from within me, knowing I did this to the best of my ability, instead of waiting for a display of satisfaction from the client that isn’t going to happen. (Yes, she is pleased, she simply isn’t one to show it in any big way.)
The Illusions of Reality
We live in the age of HGTV and reality TV and I have to remind myself that despite impressions, those takes where the homeowner is so ecstatic are entirely staged and done in often 5-10 takes, not the one spontaneous they’d have you believe. We are in an age where over the top is the norm and when it doesn’t happen we can be left feeling off balance and incomplete. You are your own biggest reward, you know best that what you’ve done is great work, don’t wait for anyone else to tell you. And celebrate your successes by letting go.
I’d love to hear about any success nightmares you might have faced or are in the middle of!