By VICTORIA SARNE
Get up, dress up, show up. Words and an attitude to live by. To be our best and live our best lives, we need to take those words and elevate that attitude to another level.
To live our best lives we first need to challenge the illusion of perfection. It doesn't exist. Those of us who think perfection is the ultimate sign of success are destined for a path lined with frustration and anxiety. It is unrealistic. Chasing perfection is debilitating, counter-productive and tantalisingly always just out of reach making satisfaction impossible. Instead, we need to choose the realistic and reachable target of being the best we can be and giving the best of ourselves to everything we do.
With this philosophy we will gain a sense of accomplishment when we focus our energy and put our best foot forward all the time. We do this by being authentic and congruent so that all the pieces of our particular puzzle fit neatly where they should in a coherent way. We take responsibility for our actions; we learn how to be happy in the moment and develop a sensible but productive work ethic.
We measure and manage our time and energy resources cleverly so that we are not prematurely depleted and achieve balance by understanding fully what we need to do to realise our dreams. Sometimes we will get an 'aha' moment, but mostly it's a slower journey of self-discovery. If it sounds daunting, take a deep breath and take it on as a challenge recognising that it leads to personal growth.
Analysing ourselves is often difficult. It will require objectivity to understand that the internal journey to self-awareness is a process. We need clarity and we need to develop the ability to define what 'success' or achievement really means to us; then evaluate how much effort, may-be sacrifices, we are ready to make to get to our goal. It doesn't matter what it might be personally or professionally - we are all individuals with varying sets of values: it could be simply being a kind and loving parent, daughter or sister; or doing the best job we can no matter where we are on the totem pole; it might be learning as much as we can about one specific aspect or reaching for a bigger financial or corporate reward or public recognition. Whatever the choice, it requires learning the same skill-set, adapting and adopting new habits and perceptions.
The devil is in the details, they say, and it's true. It's rather like taking each small piece of a jig-saw puzzle and putting it where it fits until you finally have the complete picture. So what are those pieces that you need to achieve the best representation of you? Women have to try harder, work harder, do more we are told if we want to achieve or earn respect, particularly in a professional capacity. But do we?
I think we have to try 'smarter'. In other words, learn how to play the 'game' the men play. If we don't know the name of the game or the way it is played, we can't expect to play at the same level. We are disadvantaged from the start. We need to make it our business to fully understand the environment we work in; the corporate playbook and policies; the subtle unspoken 'politics' or agendas; and identify who might be potential allies. We need our own clear vision of what we want to achieve. Externally, we have to be realistic with our view of how the real world works and then develop the ability to define a strate-gy for moving through this life with clarity and the best possible intentions with a sense of pur-pose.
It is worth remembering to be generous and positive in our attitude to ourselves as well as to others. We too deserve the best and others deserve the best of us - our families, our partners, spouses, children, friends or work associates. Make a difference. Be better. Hillel, a Jewish scholar asks: "If not you, who? If not now, when? What's your answer going to be?"
• Victoria Sarne is an entrepreneur and writer. She headed a team to establish a shelter for abused women and children in Canada and was its first chairwoman. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.lifelineswritingservice.com.