Toxic achievement culture is the latest buzzword to swirl around gifted adults.  Often, we’ve been raised in an environment where an excessive emphasis is placed on success, accomplishments, and high performance, often at the expense of our mental health and well-being.  It wasn’t ok for us to want to pursue our true passions, because “that’s not what gifted people do.”

While it sounds noble to jump off the toxic achievement train and redirect our lives toward a new goal that aligns our passions with our gifts, it’s not as easy as it sounds.  Gifted adults who have been conditioned to view conventional “high achievement” paths may have difficulty seeing other paths as “good enough.”  Before we can move forward and make a change, we must first change our mindsets about achievement, and address our own unspoken fear of mediocrity. 

Here are the steps we can take to overcome this fear:
1. Embrace a Redefined Standard of Excellence:
  • Understand that excellence can take on a new meaning when you pursue your authentic passions. Instead of comparing yourself to external standards, redefine excellence in the context of your unique goals and values.
2. Recognize That Mediocrity is Subjective:
  • Realize that mediocrity is often a subjective judgment influenced by societal norms. What may seem mediocre to others can be exceptional in the context of your chosen path.
3. Value Personal Fulfillment:
  • Shift your focus from external validation to internal fulfillment. Prioritize personal satisfaction, happiness, and a sense of purpose as indicators of success.
4. Embrace the Learning Journey:
  • Understand that embracing a new career aligned with your passions often involves a learning curve. Recognize that making mistakes and learning from them is an essential part of growth and self-improvement.
5. Cultivate Self-Compassion:
  • Practice self-compassion by being kind and understanding toward yourself. Replace self-criticism with self-encouragement, especially during moments of self-doubt.
6. Seek Inspiration from Others:
  • Look to individuals who have taken unconventional paths and found fulfillment. Their stories can serve as a source of inspiration and a reminder that success is multifaceted.
7. Focus on Your Unique Contributions:
  • Understand that your unique gifts and passions bring a distinct perspective and contribution to your chosen field. Your authentic approach can lead to innovative solutions and creative breakthroughs.
8. Embrace Growth as a Form of Excellence:
  • View your personal growth and evolution as a form of excellence. The journey toward self-discovery and authenticity is a profound achievement in itself.
9. Emphasize the Joy of the Journey:
  • Celebrate the joy and satisfaction you derive from pursuing your passions. Focus on the process and the experiences rather than solely on the end result.
10. Challenge Self-Limiting Beliefs:
Identify and challenge any self-limiting beliefs that reinforce the fear of mediocrity. Replace them with affirmations that empower and motivate you to reach your potential.
Overcoming the fear of mediocrity involves a shift in perspective and a commitment to value personal fulfillment over external judgments. Remember that embracing your authentic self and passions is an extraordinary achievement, and it can lead to a fulfilling and meaningful life journey. Each step you take toward living in alignment with your true self is a testament to your courage and authenticity.
When you’re ready to step off the toxic achievement train and find your true passion and purpose, check out our Find Your Ultimate Purpose guided toolkit here: