As with millions of others who celebrate their New Year at this time this has been a time of reflection for me.  Many people go on to create resolutions for themselves for the new year – unfortunately for most they will probably not keep them.  As a psychologist I can feel comfortable in saying this because for us past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.  Is it a perfect predictor – of course not – but it is the one I would hedge a bet upon.  Personally I tend not to make specific resolutions.  I typically only wish to live a happy life which includes finding those elusive balances between the demands and desires that I have.  However, there is one recent blog that intrigued me a bit.  It lists 30 things to stop doing to yourself.  Here is the list for those of you too lazy to click on the link above to the original blog entry:

  1. Stop spending time with the wrong people.
  2. Stop running from your problems.
  3. Stop lying to yourself.
  4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner.
  5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not.
  6. Stop trying to hold onto the past.
  7. Stop being scared to make a mistake. *
  8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. *
  9. Stop trying to buy happiness.
  10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness.
  11. Stop being idle. *
  12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. *
  13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons.
  14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work.
  15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. *
  16. Stop being jealous of others.
  17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.
  18. Stop holding grudges.
  19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level.
  20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others.
  21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break.
  22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments.
  23. Stop trying to make things perfect. *
  24. Stop following the path of least resistance.
  25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. *
  26. Stop blaming others for your troubles.
  27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. *
  28. Stop worrying so much. *
  29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. *
  30. Stop being ungrateful.

Now as I first read several of these I was quite sure that I did not have an issue with.  The ones with an asterisk are ones that I know that I do.  However, I think I would like to challenge myself to look a bit more objectively (as much as possible) to see if I really do believe that I do these items that might help preclude happiness.  So as one goal to write more (another perpetual goal that I never am able to keep) I think I will periodically choose one (maybe two) to reflect upon.

For my first entry I think I will start with one of these that I know I tend to occupy my time #12 “Stop thinking you’re not ready. *”  I think there are many of us who are early in our career (whatever that career might be) that have what I have heard referred to as the ‘imposter syndrome.”  I know that in my discussions with my grad school friends and also current junior faculty colleagues that this is a pretty common experience.  Basically, many of us have a fear that we will be ‘found out’ that that others will eventually see that we had somehow managed to get to where we are in some unsatisfactory manner.  I’m probably oversharing here,  but I know that I have felt this many times throughout my college, graduate training, and current position.  At times I did not take some risks because I simply do not think that I am ready – or I take the risk and continually ruminate on how unqualified I feel I might be for a certain task.

More currently I would like to believe that the impostor syndrome has not limited me and that I have been bold enough to take on challenging work that I might have felt internally that I was not ready for (though once I look at my own accomplishments and the accomplishments that others point out to me suggest that I am ready).  But I know that this is still a lingering fear.  Other elements of these 30 items play a part (perfectionism, ruminating on past failures, fear of making a mistake) in this.  This academic year in particular has challenged me to attempt to remove this “am I ready for this/impostor syndrome fear of being found out” in several ways.  What I need to be wary of is not whether or not I am qualified for the activities that I am in, I need to fear my own fear of not believing in myself to successfully accomplish these tasks.

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