I know this couple that seems to have the perfect life. They have a beautiful home, another in Florida on the ocean, three grown boys, and they travel extensively to beautiful places.
Following them on Facebook, I often find myself wishing that I could quarantine on the ocean in Florida, or that I could be jetting to Iceland like they are posting.
Seeing a recent post as they checked in to the Bellagio in Las Vegas, I caught myself asking, “What is it that they have that I don't?”
Oh! That’s a dangerous slope!
Theodore Roosevelt said “comparison is the thief of joy”.
It's true: When we compare ourselves to what others have, or simply how they are, we are essentially making ourselves feel down right inadequate and deflated – with a low self-esteem to match.
No, I’m not talking about a high bank account balance or a fancy car, though, success does have its perks (really? An ocean front home in Florida?!?). Instead, what I’m talking about is high self-worth.
When you believe in yourself, honestly, there is nothing you cannot do. People with high self-worth understand this. They understand a few other things too... and all of us need to be reminded of them from time to time!
They Value Their Boundaries
Rather than get caught up into a world of people-pleasing, someone with high self-worth values their time and space. They set boundaries to protect this. They're not so worried what somebody else thinks that they're going to cave in and give up their time for something they don't believe in.
I find that, having retired from one career, people are quick to assume that I have all the time in the world for their agenda. Retiring gave me the freedom to choose, and what I chose to do was start my own company. So, I still work, I just get to choose when, how long, how hard and where! If I let all their “shoulds” define my days, I would never have the time and space for my business!
They Do What They Love
There is nothing more soul-sucking than a job you hate. Someone with high self-worth isn't about to put themselves through that kind of misery. If they are in a job they dislike, they look for strategies to get themselves out of it. They continue their education, they look for opportunities, they network, and they do what's necessary to put themselves right where they want to be.
In my former career, I made several huge career pivots, all driven by me to move towards work I might enjoy more. Early in my career, I was promoted into a position in Software Engineering and that only lasted 18 months! I did not like anything about the software engineering process, so before I left on maternity leave, I arranged to come back to a new job. My boss was fine, my teammates were good people, I just didn’t enjoy the work, therefore I took it upon myself to make a change.
They Believe in Something Bigger
People with high self-worth realize that they are not the center of the universe. Rather than acting with their own goals at the heart of every action, they see the bigger picture. They look for ways in which their dreams fit in with a higher calling and tend to believe in something bigger than themselves. This is more than a religious experience, though their higher power might be involved. This is about recognizing where you fit and being happy in your place in the universe.
I believe this is what has fueled the “purpose movement” in this country and it’s something that I am whole-heartedly embracing in my encore career. In fact, I am speaking at the Purpose Summit in Mt. Clemens, Michigan in two months and I am very excited to immerse myself into all things purpose! My talk, From Dreaming to Doing: Find the Courage and Develop the Plan to Fulfill Your Purpose combines my belief in something bigger AND my penchant for taking action.
They Know Gratitude Matters
It seems such a small thing to be able to say thank you. But every time you express gratitude, you acknowledge someone thought well enough of you to go out of their way on your behalf. To a person with high self-worth, they recognize these connections easily and know the very act of saying 'thank you' boosts the self-worth of someone else as well as their own.
I’ve written before on gratitude journaling and my own Happiness Journal, but here, I really mean that in-the-moment gratitude.
If you have direct-reports at work, thank them even if you think “that’s what they get paid to do, why should I thank them?” That could be a more engineering mindset, but I did see that A LOT at my former work!
Thank that waitress that brought you a fresh drink before your other one was quite finished. Thank that person that just paid you a compliment! This one can be awkward but I find that a “thanks; you’re very kind” is all that needs to be said.
Only Their Narrative Truly Counts
When someone has high self-worth, they realize just how much they are in control of their destiny. If they don't feel good about themselves, they understand that it's because of something they are not doing for themselves. There is no room for being a victim when you want to improve your self-worth. This is about taking control of the narrative and writing your own story.
OK, I have to admit, the song Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield just ran through my head. Great lyrics, but especially the last lines “Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten”.
I know I have a habit of action and I encourage you to do the same.
To circle back to my envy of the couple above, I know that I could have that same lifestyle if I wanted to; it is within me. But I think of the costs (mental, not monetary) and it exhausts me. Yes, I like to travel, but going to 12 places in one year, just isn’t me. Keeping up with one home is enough, why would I take on two?
Remember, people with high self-worth have a powerful sense of awareness of their goals and motivations. This attention to themselves helps them to create in themselves the person they wish to become.
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: My credit card company is super nice; they really help boost my self-esteem...
They always tell me I have an outstanding balance!