Stop Labeling Yourself In Ways That Don't Serve You!
How to Stop Labeling Yourself As an Underachiever
Feelings of “underachievement” stem from disappointment with yourself. “Underachievers” often feel like they are not reaching their greatest potential, leading to feelings of frustration and self-doubt. The reality is that many people who feel this way are actually very productive! You can work to stop labeling yourself as an underachiever by reframing your perspective, seeking the input of others, and adjusting your methods for success. With a little time and effort, you can accomplish satisfying, realistic goals and see yourself in a new light.
Reframing Your Perspective
Look closely at your expectations.If you are labeling yourself as an underachiever, this means that you are accomplishing less than you expect. So it is possible this lies not within your work, but instead in your own expectations. In fact, you may not even be fully aware of the high expectations you have for yourself. Take some time to truly reflect on what you think you should be accomplishing.
- Begin by making a list of what you think you need to achieve in order to be successful.
- This may be one larger goal (which you can break down into smaller ones), or a list of various achievements across different areas of your life.
Recognize your successes.When you are focused only on high-level goals, you may miss the mini-successes along the way. Ignoring or glossing over these can lead to feelings of underachievement. Reframe your focus to acknowledge your important victories.
- Look back to your list of expectations.
- What steps have you made toward reaching these goals?
- Make a second list of anything you have accomplished recently.
- You can even include things that you almost completed, but fell just a bit short.
Look at the big picture.Feelings of underachievement are most often attached to just one area of life, most often school or career. However, one’s academic and professional achievements are not the only elements of a happy life. Consider all the strengths you have, consider your blessings, and take a step back and look at the big picture. Anytime you sense feelings of underachievement creeping up, take a moment to reflect on your life as a whole, instead of focusing solely on success or failure.
Explore where your feelings of underachievement stem from.How you feel about yourself likely has a root in something that has happened to you. Feeling like you're an underachiever can also be caused by depression.Ask yourself a few questions to help you determine what is causing you to feel like an underachiever.
- Were your parents overly critical of you? Were their expectations too high?
- Did you have a teacher that questioned your abilities?
- Is your boss demeaning?
- Do you feel like your significant other questions you too much?
Seeking the Input of Others
Talk to your friends.It is quite possible that your feelings of underachievement are not entirely realistic. It is likely that you’ve merely gotten into a habit of seeing yourself this way. You can begin to recalibrate your sense of self by trying to get a sense of how your friends see you. Sit down with a few of your closest friends, one at a time, and ask them to describe your strengths and weaknesses. Implore them to be completely honest, and do your best to trust what they say.
Accept praise.If you have labeled yourself an underachiever, you may be minimizing the ways you succeed. In fact, you likely don’t even notice when you receive a pat on the back. Every time someone in your life—a boss, a colleague, or a friend—gives you a compliment, jot it down, and repeat it to yourself later. In time, you will be able to accept the compliments you deserve, and in turn, improve the image you have of yourself.
Talk to a professional.As with many things in life, altering deeply held self-perceptions is easier said than done. It will take commitment and daily practice. This process is sometimes best facilitated by a professional therapist, who can give you tools, assignments, and feedback to guide you. Consider speaking with a therapist to help your self-perceptions get back on track.
Adjusting Your Methods
Set realistic goals and sub-goals.You can set yourself up for success, and zap feelings of underachievement, by setting realistic goals and breaking them down into achievable sub-goals. Setting goals is motivating, and fulfilling even small sub-goals can eradicate feelings of underachievement.
- Think about a specific goal you’d like to achieve. What could make you feel like you’re achieving your potential?
- Break this goal down into 3 to 5 steps, or sub-goals. In a logical, step-by-step way, think about what needs to happen for this goal to be accomplished.
Focus on better planning.Very often, poor organization and/or poor planning can lead to feelings of underachievement. Alongside breaking your goals down into smaller components, create due dates and deadlines for your goals and sub-goals, as well as an overall timeline for your goals.
- Find a planner that you enjoy using (digital or paper).
- Determine an end-date or deadline for your goal (or goals). Is there a specific time when this needs to be complete?
- Figure out due dates for each sub-goal. Consider how many actual hours it will take to accomplish each individual task.
- Write down all due dates and deadlines for your goals and sub-goals.
- Check in with your planner daily! Take small steps toward your goals every day.
Avoid over-committing yourself.Another culprit that can sabotage your success and lead to feelings of underachievement is the habit of over-committing yourself. Particularly if you’re feeling like an underachiever, you may be compelled to take on more than you can handle! Learning to say no to some projects allows you to succeed in the ones most important to you.
- Before you take on a new project, return to your planner and review any existing due dates or deadlines.
- Break the proposed project down into sub-goals with deadlines, keeping in mind how much actual time it will take to reach each of the sub-goals.
- Without sacrificing sleep and other time you need for yourself or your family, ask yourself realistically, do you have the time to take on this new task?
QuestionHow do I stop getting unduly worried?Top AnswererTo worry is a normal thing, we all have it. It may be helpful if you wrote down what you're worried about in detail and then re-read it after the worry has passed? For example: you bought a new outfit and worry what your friends might think. Write down why you're worried, what specifically worries you, etc. Then face the music and afterwards revisit your worries. In most cases, there was nothing to worry about. Actually doing this experiment gives you a tangible example to remember next time you're worried about something.Thanks!
Video: Labeling Yourself
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