You are not behind
Ep. 263
| with
You are not behind in life

Follow Along:

In the latest episode of “Lessons from a Quitter,” we tackle the feeling of “being behind.” High achievers often struggle with this thought, ironically, despite their accomplishments. We delve into why this thought persists and how it robs us of joy and happiness. Society’s expectations and hustle culture play a significant role in creating this feeling of falling short. However, it’s crucial to recognize that we are not on a predetermined, one-size-fits-all path. Everyone’s journey is unique, and comparing ourselves to others only breeds unhappiness. We explore the importance of accepting where we are and finding joy in the present moment rather than constantly chasing an elusive future of achievement. Listen for concrete tips to take on the feeling of “being behind” and remember, you are exactly where you need to be. There’s no need to rush to some imagined destination.

Show Transcript
Hey! Welcome to Lessons from a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you've spent getting to where you are. If ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.
Hello my friends, and welcome to another episode of Lessons from a Quitter. I'm so excited to have you here. Today's topic is a big one. I think I've said this a number of times where I say I think this is the number one thing people struggle with, but I truly think that this is one of the issues or blocks that comes up the most in the Quitter Club. My membership, it's one of the things that I have to coach on people the most, and it comes up a lot for high achievers. It's kind of ironic for the people that have achieved a lot in their lives, they tend to really hold onto this thought, and we're going to talk about why, but it's this thought of, “I'm behind. I feel behind.” Okay? So I want you to think about how often you think that thought.
I know everybody listening to me is thinking, has had that thought, is thinking that thought. It's a main thought that they think about, because I've just coached way too many people to know, how prevalent it is. And it's something that comes up for me all the time. So I know it's in all of our brains. And so I want to talk about so many things, like where that thought comes from, how much of a bullshit thought that is, and how much robs us of joy, of happiness, of being present, of building, of being able to stick with one thing, all of the problems that it causes, so that hopefully you can start realizing when you are thinking that thought, that not only is it a lie, but it's really important for you to root it out. It's really important for you to learn how to redirect, how to unsee that lie, become aware of it, and not just let it go unchecked.
So let's talk about the fact that you, my friend, are not behind at all. I don't care how much you want to convince me. I don't care about the circumstances in your life that you want to tell me. Like, no, you should have been further along. I promise you that's not a truth, and it's your choice to keep that thought. And I hope that by the end of this you can see how much it doesn't serve you to keep it. Okay?
So let's start with talking about where this thought even comes from, because, a lot of us think it's like, I said, some truth. Like I am just looking at the facts of my life and I'm looking at the facts of, you know, where I am on my path. And it's just an observation, that's a truth. I'm not, it's not, I'm not biased. I'm just looking at where I should be and where I am, and I'm merely telling you that I should be further along as if there are categorical milestones that the universe has deemed us all required, like we're all required to hit.
That's not how it works, right? We've all been programmed by society to believe that we should be doing certain things in our lives, or that we should have done certain things in our lives. And thanks to the hustle culture that most of us live in, we have been programmed to believe that productivity and achieving and amassing and having more of is a sign of our success is a sign that we are on the right path. And so for so many of us, if you look at, just think about all of the messages that you've been given from when you were a child and you think about, not only were certain milestones created, I mean just literally made up, but we just decided that schooling should last until you're 18, okay? Like regular, you know, school aged children should be until 18. Why? Who knows?
Would that, that's just what we decided, right? Because then you can work. Then we decided that there's this thing called college and that you should get a degree by this age and that you can go get a master's or a PhD or another degree, an advanced degree by another age, and that you, I don't know, you should have a job by a certain age and you should hold onto that job and be able to buy a house by another age and you should have get married and have children. All of it is made up. Just randomly made up for us, right?
And so when you look at it, from when we're kids, not only is it like, oh, you should graduate by 18, you should get your degree by 22 and all of this stuff. And so if we don't fit within that paradigm, if something happens, maybe we have some traumas, maybe our brain doesn't work that way, maybe we just go things, you know, at a little bit of a slower pace, we start kind of taking on, it's like, “oh, I should have been able to have achieved that by now and I didn't. So there's something wrong with me.” Instead of, maybe this system that was created wasn't built for me, didn't fit what I needed, okay? None of us ever think that. It's just like, no, everyone else can do it. And so I should be able to do what everybody else is doing. And if you look at the glorification of doing things faster, doing things earlier. We love to celebrate 30 under 30, right? The child geniuses that graduate college at 16 and then go to medical school and graduate medical school by 21. Why is that important? Why does that matter? Somehow we give the message that they're better. Wow, look at this kid who can do what, you know, people 10 years older than them can do.
And that's great. That kid, I mean, this actually just goes to my point that everybody is built different, right? There are people whose brain capabilities are faster than a lot of us. And so maybe they grasp concepts easier and they can hold on, they can memorize better and they can understand things faster. Great. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the rest of us. It just means that that person processes things faster and you know, can get a degree earlier than us. But we tout it as something that's so enviable, right? We love these meteoric rises when we watch people and they just, like we love the stories of, “I started my business and within two years I was doing seven figures and seven...” So we create this standard, this made up belief that things should be fast and should be easy and I should just have the success. And if I'm good, if I was good enough, I could just do it by the times that people say I was supposed to do it right?
And that's like, there is the success path. So for a lot of us in work, in the working world, and because of capitalism and because of, you know, hustle culture, we've been told like, you should be able to achieve certain things by a certain age. And so we see our peers who maybe are able to achieve those things and we think like, see, like if I can't do that, then I'm a failure, then I'm behind. I should have made more money. I should have saved more money. I should have invested more money. I should have more by now. I should have more to show by now. I should be in a higher position by now. I should have gotten my degree sooner, whatever it was, because somebody had created some kind of standard. And we are measuring ourselves against that. And add a layer on to that, if you, we always have to talk about the patriarchy here because the vast majority of my audience are women and we just get an extra layer of crap thrown on us. Not to say that the patriarchy also screws men as well, but o obviously it, the women bear the brunt of it.
And so in the patriarchy, women have been programmed from when we were born that our worth comes in whether we can provide value for other people in the form of becoming a wife, becoming a mother. And so we heavily put our own self-worth on whether we get married by a certain age, whether we have children by a certain age and we're taught that we are successful if we can accomplish those things, right? And just pause for a second to notice that you never hear men saying, well, I shouldn't say never. Like, I'm sure there's some that say this, but for the most part, you rarely will hear men say, I should have been married by now. For men, there's just a different, obviously the biological clock is different, but there's a different timeline.
And if a man is not married, even in, well in his, you know, thirties or forties, there isn't this pressure and this rush of like, “oh, you really should have settled down by now.” But for women who have historically gotten the short end of the stick where it's like if you didn't get married, you were a spinster, right? There wasn't an equivalent term for men that didn't get married. So we have been drilled with this idea that your self-worth and your worth in this world is whether you can accomplish these milestones that we've set out. It's so easy to see how made up it is. If you just look at what we used to think was the schedule, kind of the milestones back in the day, right?
Back in the day, if you weren't married by 25, you are a spinster, okay? You were, it was too late for you. Nobody was going to marry you. You were too far gone. That's laughable at this point, right? So if somebody that was 25 told you, I'm behind because I should be married by now, most of us would either laugh at them or be like, are you crazy? You're not behind. You have so much time to get married. There's so much of your life. Who said, right? Who said you have to get married by 25?
And so we can see that when we look at history and we look at the absurd standards that we had held people to and the things that we just decided they should do. And yet it's so hard when it's like you're a fish in water, you can't see the water you're swimming in. You can't see that it's still the same made up standards.
Things have shifted. And luckily as we've worked for women's rights and as women have gone into the workplace and as things have shifted, like women are getting married later, women are burying children later and women are giving themselves like a longer timeline to decide when they want to do those things. But it hasn't gone away. There's still such a huge amount of pressure to have even gotten married or have children. Now again, there's, there's constantly progress. Like you can see now there's whole movements of women who are choosing to be childless on purpose. This has only come about in the last like I swear like five years on social media. I mean, there's always been women who have chosen to be childless, but you've never talked about it or bragged about it or whatnot because it was always thought of in really a bad way. And it's women kind of changing that narrative.
But it's fascinating to watch that now. And you're like, yeah, of course you should not have a kid if you don't want to have kids, right? Like nobody should be forced. Like should have children just because people tell them they should. And yet so many women have carried around so much shame for so much of their lives thinking that I should be further along in my life. I should have this milestone, I should do this thing that society tells me I should do, right? And so when we look at those examples, it just makes it easier to see like maybe the thing you are observing, maybe the thing you think is so objective that like, no, I really am behind. Maybe that's also made up. Maybe that's also not a truth. And it's just simply something that has been programmed in you that you think you should have in order to feel good about yourself and you don't need it.
It's fascinating when you look at this stuff and you look at what, like what our society has kind of gotten us to believe. If you look at capitalism and hustle culture, it's entire objective is to make us as close to robots as possible. I mean, it's not, it doesn't say that you know, outright explicitly. But if you think about like it's based on the factory model, it's, we're based on like how much productivity can people, can we output, and how much can we create in order to grow the economy? And that's literally, it's only focus without any regard at to like human health and mental health, physical health, all that stuff, right? But when you think about it, it's amazing that we've all gone into this idea that there is one way to be that all humans, regardless of how you were naturally built, regardless of your upbringing, your traumas, your whatever, we all should be one way. We should all go to school at the same rate. We should all graduate at the same time. We should all get jobs in the same way. We should all be happy with the same things, right? It's crazy to look at it and think that every human should have the same path. Some of us are more creative than others. Some of us have brains that operate different. Maybe we're, we're not neurotypical. We might be some of us are more naturally depressed. Maybe we don't have certain hormones or chemicals in our brain. Some people might be naturally more optimistic, they're going to see the world in a different way. We all have different traumas. Like there's, you know, I, I could keep going. Some of us are more detail oriented, some of us are more mature, some of us are less mature. None of it is right or wrong.
It's just that we are not robots, we are not monoliths. We are all different. We have different, you know, our different backgrounds, our genes, the way we grew up. All of that creates a unique human being. And so to think that there is one path that you should be on, you should have figured it out by now. You should get married whenever everyone says you should get married and you should have children and you should get that job and you should make a certain amount of money. And that should be important to you. And for so many of us, when it's not, when it's like maybe for me this path is not what lights me up. It's not the thing that gets me excited. Like I would rather spend time writing poetry and sitting in meadows and you know, I mean I know we have to pay bills, but you get what I'm saying?
Maybe that's just the way that I'm built. And I think for so many of us, we don't stop for a second to think like, what if my path is just different? What if my path is not the same path as everybody else is? And what if I'm exactly where I need to be in my path to learn the things I need to learn to unlearn all of the things that I've learned thus far to figure out what lights me up to figure out what I want to create a life that's unique to me to enjoy my life? What if it's not in doing all of these things? And I think that a really good example of it is looking at people who have accomplished all of those things myself. I'll give you my, my story, right? I really did go along with society's standard and it is really difficult to look up and question things when you are kind of getting that pat on the head that you're doing the right thing, right?
Like I did, I was able to go through school easily, I was able to get that degree when I was supposed to get it quote unquote. I was able to get into a good law school and pass the bar and become a lawyer by like 27. I did meet my husband at a young age and we were together and we got married at 28. Like I, I sort of followed this timeline and what was fascinating is like where did that get me?
I see this every day with people I coach. It's like even when if you're going along with something somebody, a path that somebody else has created for you, there comes a time where you look up and you think, what the hell am I doing here? This isn't what I wanted, right? That happened with me with the law. It's like I did everything I was supposed to do. I did it on time. I wasn't behind even though I always thought I was anyways. And then I got there and I was like, but I don't want this. This isn't my life.
What was the point of accomplishing everything on that timeline or quickly if I didn't slow down enough to figure out what the hell I wanted and create a life for me, right? Then I had just had to start over. And of course then I had the thoughts of like, I'm so behind. I'm starting my career now in my thirties, right?
And I hear this all the time for so many people that I coach because they come to me and they want to quit when they're in their thirties or forties or fifties and it's like I can't start over. And of course you can. It's simply that we have these beliefs, but then I'm going to be behind everything I'm, I've built to show everyone that I'm successful is going to be for nothing. And now I have to rebuild again and I have to start at this age and this is too late. Even like who, why? Who said? We have years, decades to still work. Who decided that you only have to have one career Who decided that you have to stick with one thing and it means that it's too, you know, you're too late starting in your fifties.
Like what if that was the standard, right? Like what if the way it was all created was that every 10 years you start a new career, right? Think about how your thoughts would be different. You wouldn't think, oh, I'm late now, I'm too late or I'm behind. You'd be like, oh, this is the next decade of my life and I want you to see this. To see that it's not the actual circumstance that makes you behind. It's simply your thinking about it.
And the funny thing is, is that even if you check off all of the things that you think you should check off when you have this thought because it's the thought that creates that feeling, it's not the actual circumstances. You will always have that thought. It does not matter what you achieve, you will never outrun it.
So I see this day in and day out where it's people who were thinking like, oh, I'm behind. I need to be doing more. I need to be doing more. And they get the job, they get the promotion, they got the, you know, they got the degree, they got the things that they thought they should do, they bought the house and then they still think, like their brain just moves on to the next thing. It was like, okay, well you got the job but you should be making more money. Okay, you're making more money but you should have more assets and you should have invested by now. Okay, you did invest and you're buying a house, but you should have been married and you, you know, neglected your relationships.
Like your brain will constantly scan how you're behind because you have set up that like there is some place other than where I am that I should be, there's someone else that's ahead of me. And so I am now going to train myself to constantly scan for that and look for that and look for how other people are quote unquote better and then tell myself that I'm doing terribly here.
Not a fun way to live. And the reason I say this is because I see people who buy society standards have checked off all the boxes, have gotten the degrees, have gotten or become partner or whatever, and doing the things. And they still are constantly telling me, I feel so behind, behind what, where were you supposed to be?
And you really need to answer that question for yourself. I should have been what I should by this point. I should fill in the blank for yourself. Make sure it's not some nebulous concept. Because if you're constantly telling yourself I'm behind, I should have your brain's never going to let you catch up. Cause no matter what, what you get to, it's like, yeah, yeah, but we should have done this thing too, but we should be doing that. We should also be able to do this. And so you want to define it like when will I have arrived? When will I know? Like, you know what, okay, now I, I'm good because we have this mistaken belief that we will get somewhere where we quote unquote arrive where we aren't like when we don't know like that we just will stop feeling like we're behind. Like I can finally kick up my feet and relax.
But you already know that that doesn't exist because you all have tried it. You all tried thinking like, once I get the degree I'll feel like I am accomplished. Once I got the job, I'll feel accomplished. Once I make this much money or save this much money, I'll feel accomplished. And then you get there and your brain celebrates for maybe four seconds and is off to the next thing. It's off to the next thing that you're failing at. And so what you have to understand is that it's not, in the achieving that you start feeling like, huh, I'm exactly where I need to be. It's in changing your thoughts about where you are exactly right now. I think for a lot of us, we believe that like I will get to a certain place when I achieve something where I can feel in control of myself, in control of my thoughts.
I think a lot of us think like once I get that degree or the thing that I think I need the job and whatnot, I will stop having so much self-doubt. I will feel confident, I will feel assured, I will know that this was the right decision. And when you get there and you realize self-doubt is always coming along, there's always second guessing. There's always these questions about our lives. We're constantly evolving. We're things are constantly going to change. We don't know everything. And we get there and we're like, oh, I wanted that certainty and I didn't get it here so now I have to move on to the next thing. As opposed to really focusing on why am I telling myself that I'm behind? Why am I telling myself I need more? Why am I telling myself I should have done something else?
And this keeps so many of us on this perpetual hamster wheel. And the saddest part about it is that we don't enjoy any of our life. We're constantly like panicked that we should be doing more, we should be doing something else. I actually like, it's a really great experiment like homework, that I would suggest you all do is sit down and write a whole list of all of the things that you should have done by now or that you should be able to do or that you should be doing regularly that you're not doing. And see how much is on there. See what your brain tells you because it's insane and it's impossible. It's like I should have, you know, worked out every day for the last five years. So I would be in shape, I should have been making healthier meals, I should have a skincare routine.
I should have created more friends and had a friend, friend group. I should have a spouse by now I should have had kids. I should be a better parent. I should have taken those parenting classes. I should be have built that business. I should have a side hustle, I should bring, be bringing in more money. Whatever it is. It's like on and on and on.
And when you start seeing that, when you start seeing like, oh, I'll never win this game. If I'm constantly telling myself that where I'm at right now is not good enough, then no matter where I go, that thought will come with me. And this is the really important part that I want you all to hear me on and I want you to see because one of the things that I teach a lot in my membership and we work a lot on in the Quitter Club is not focusing so much on quote unquote the truth. What we all believe is the truth, which it isn't.
But what does it serve me to think this thought, right? A better gauge isn't like, is this thought true? It's like, does this thought serve me to constantly be telling myself? And I want you to think about like if we talk about I, I teach with the model that helps you kind of gain awareness around your thoughts. So if you look at a model and you have the thought I am behind or I should be further along, let's say either one of those thoughts, think about what feeling that creates in you when you're doing your business and you think I'm behind here or you're, you know, trying to date and you're thinking I'm behind or whatever the circumstances for you. When you have that thought, the feeling it tends to create is something like stress or panic or overwhelm.
And what do you do when you are thinking I should be further along and you're feeling panicked. Think about what you do from that state. Most of us procrastinate, we buffer, right? We start watching Netflix and stuff cause it's too overwhelming to think about. We jump from thing to thing. We are kind of scatterbrained because it's like I just have to make this up. I have to do this quickly in order to get to wherever it is I think I should be. We create more stress, we make ourselves miserable, we beat ourselves up. We constantly go through shame spirals. And the result of that is that you don't get any further along. You keep recreating this cycle for yourself. You keep telling yourself you're behind and then you don't do any work. You don't focus on the thing you want to focus on. You don't build the things you want to build, you don't enjoy your life.
And then you keep reiterating that thought. So it becomes your reality. You create a result where you fall behind. It's not because you were actually behind, it's because you're obsessively thinking that you're behind.
And so I just offer to you maybe consider, what if you're exactly where you need to be. Like what if you could look back future, you could look back 10 years from now and look at where you are and be like, oh my God, that's exactly where I was supposed to be in that journey to learn the things I needed to learn, to gain the skills I needed to gain, to like get the building blocks, whatever, to learn that lesson, to go through that painful thing I needed to go through. What if that was just possible?
What if you looked back and you were like, that was exactly where I was supposed to be? How would that change how you experience right now? How you experience your day-to-day. If we do this model, if we look at, if I think I'm exactly where I need to be, whether that's true or not, it's just as true as me thinking I should be further along. Neither one is some like truth in the universe. There's no path that someone's going to come and tell you, you know what? By the age of 35, you were actually supposed to be here. It's all made up, right? So like this is your life's path. You're where you need to be because that's where you are. That's the reality we're living with, right? So like if I adopt that thought, the same amount of truth as that thought, as the thought I'm behind.
So let's say I decide to think you know what, I'm exactly where I need to be. Think about how you feel when you think that thought. If you thought that thought was true. You'd likely feel calm or maybe even happy or present or determined. Maybe that gives you motivation. Because you're like, huh, I'm doing great. I'm where I need to be. I need to keep going.
And when you're thinking that and you're feeling calm or motivated or present, you focus on what you're doing now. You slow down. You don't need, have a rush to get somewhere else. You can actually enjoy it. You think about like, what do I need to learn while I'm here? What is the skills I need in this season of my life? Why is it that I'm here? Right? And your result is that you create the life exactly where you are, right? Like you create that result for yourself. That you're exactly where you need to be. You prove to yourself this is where I need to be.
One of my favorite phrases, mantras that I like to repeat to myself when I sort of get in a rush and think I need to be further along. Which by the way, I always, whenever I have those thoughts, I always ask myself like, what do I think I will feel when I'm further along? What do I think? Like if I think my business should be further along or I think you know, whatever it is in my life. Usually for me it's my business. What do I think I'm going to feel when my business is double what it is now or triple? I typically think I'll, I'll feel so much happier and I'll feel less trust. And I already know that's not true. Because once I get there, I'm going to have a whole set of new problems. Usually when your business is bigger, you actually have more problems, not less, right?
And so I realized like my brain is playing this trick on me that like, oh, there's some place you're going to get to where you're going to be happy all the time and we just have got to get there faster. And I just slow it down. I was like, no, I don't. I'm happy where I'm at. I can be happy here if that's what I'm looking for. If I'm looking for less stress and more happiness, I can give that to myself exactly where I am.
And so one of the thoughts that I love to think and practice when I find myself in a rush is to simply think, if I focus on today, tomorrow will take care of itself.
So many of us are just living in this future that doesn't exist. We're living for like, oh, if I just hustle for these couple of months, then I can relax in the summer, right? Or I can relax for the holidays or I can do, you know, whatever it is. Like down the road. We're constantly kicking the can down the road. Like if I just catch up. And you can see this by the way, with your to-do lists, with all of the things that you think you need to do every single day. It's still the same thing. We always feel like we're behind. We're not getting everything done. And I really love to slow myself down and remind myself that my life is right now. Your life is right now. It's not someday. It's not when you accomplish something else. It's not in some future when you check off some box, it's today.
You can't store your joy and experience it later. You can't say like, okay, I'm going to work really hard so I can store it. And then in the future I'm going to sit back and enjoy all this. Of course you can plan and you can create things like delay gratification so you can have something better in the future. That's not what I mean. But what I mean is that giving up all of the joy that you could have today or in your life right now in the hopes that someday you will feel like you are accomplished or that you made it, is allowing your life to go by in the hopes that someday in the future you might enjoy it. What if we just enjoyed it today? And so when I think if I focus on today, tomorrow, we'll take care of itself. It's just a reminder that like it's so cliche to be like, tomorrow isn't promise, but today's all we have, it is just the truth.
And so what can I do? Even if it's something small, to have some joy, to have some peace, to have some self-compassion, to give myself some love. Whatever it is that I need, if I do that today, tomorrow will be fine. I'll get to it.
If I'm constantly worried about getting and making sure everything is better next week, next month, then my entire life will pass me by.
So my friends, you are not behind. There's nowhere else you need to be. Where you are is perfect. Your path is perfect, your path is yours. Do not look at other people's paths. It doesn't even have the same scenery. It doesn't have the same obstacles and bumps, it doesn't have the same pitfalls. Your path is yours and you get to decide what you want to make of it every day. You get to decide how you want to enjoy it, how you want to think about yourself, and constantly beating yourself up for thinking that you should be further along is the quickest way to ruin the whole experience.
Get present to your life right now, decide that you are exactly where you want to be and practice that thought. And if you want help with that, you know where to find me. The Quitter Club is where we do this work. And it's so important because of things like this. Because it's not about what job you're going to get or what job you're going to jump to. It's not about achieving one more thing. It's about how do I slow down and learn to love exactly where I'm at? How do I stop comparing myself? How do I stop thinking I should be doing more? And only then can I, regardless of my career, then enjoy where I'm at, enjoy the fruits of my labor. So come find me at club and I hope to see you soon. See you all next week.
Hey, if you are looking for more in-depth help with your career, whether that's dealing with all of the stress, worry, and anxiety that's leading to burnout in your current career or figuring out what your dream career is and actually going after it, I want you to join me in the Quitter Club. It is where we quit what is no longer working. Like perfectionism, people pleasing imposter syndrome… and we start working on what does, and we start taking action towards the career and the life that you actually want. We will take the concepts that we talk about on the podcast and apply them to your life and you will get the coaching, tools, and support that you need to actually make some real change. So go to club and get on the waitlist. Doors are closed right now, but they will be open soon.