Lately, I have had an intense desire to do something big. Really big. I want to write a book, design a complex computer program, travel across the world for a year, start my own company, plan the Olympics, something big. Really big. I want to dive into a challenge and pick it apart and spit it out and live in that crazy act of creation, problem-solving, and hard work. I have a restless spirit, and I thrive when I am swamped with deliciously-interesting problems to solve and tasks to do.
Turns out I have always been restless. I recently found my notebooks of poems from ages 11-17, and this edginess shines through. In one of the poems from 1995 at age 14, I wrote, “My thoughts are always rapid. My daydreams never cease.” Similarly in 1994, I wrote “My heart yearns to explore,” and in 1997, I wrote “I have a wandering heart that remains in a wave of uncertainty.” Themes of waiting for contentment and peace are common in these poems, and I think common throughout my whole life. I have struggled with this for as long as I can remember. The idea is that now, it is crazy and I am restless, but one day I won’t be. One day, it will be peaceful and serene.
But, honestly, that really isn’t a reality for me. There is too much work to be done in this world. I am happier than I have ever been. I have an amazing family–an amazing husband and two quirky, funny, sweet little girls. I have a good job where I have been able to be successful, that allows me to work from home, and is creatively fulfilling in many ways. We have a good-sized house in a quiet neighborhood. We make enough money to be comfortable. I have an extraordinary group of friends who add so much joy and support to my life. Things are good.
Even after all that, I still have this restless energy. For a leadership program at my work recently, we have been taking Strengthsfinder tests to uncover our strengths. This is something I have done before, and I found it fascinating. One of my top strengths both times I took the test was “Achiever.” This is what the Strengthsfinder 2.0 book says about Achiever.
Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving.
Yes, yes, and yes again. That line in bold describes exactly what I am talking about. Days where I do nothing eat me alive. I try to calm it by winning achievements in games and puzzles (Like, I am currently on a quest to achieve all the gold medals in Bloons Tower Defense 5 on my phone), but always in the back of my head, I am thinking “I am not doing enough,” and “that was wasted time you will never get back.” Another line in the book under Achiever says, “I owe the present everything I have,” and that is so true so true.
Right now I am faced with more than a whisper of discontent for a variety of reasons. One reason is that I have had a hurt foot for about 5 months, so I am being physically restrained. A second reason is have too many quiet moments in my job as it is right now, and when my job first started, I had a huge creating task to undertake (creating a ton of lessons). I had a taste of that thrill of achievement, but all those lessons are complete now.
Although I don’t think I will ever find that serenity I thought I was looking for in my teenage poetry, I know now that the true contentment for me comes with tackling big tasks and giving life all I have got. Let’s do this. I’m sure the Olympics have already been planned. What’s next?