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Fill Up Your Cup

Does it ever feel like you’re just not being heard or you do something expecting people to give you kudos and you hear crickets? I know I have! It can be so hard to put your heart and soul into something only to feel like you failed because no one noticed. But why do we feel like if no one notices, then we’re a failure? That all that work we did means nothing if we don’t get that “Good job!”?

Feeling like a failure all goes back to the questions “Why did you do that? What was your motivation?” If the answer is, “Because someone told me to” or “So that someone could tell me ‘Good job!’”, then you’ve already set yourself up for feeling disappointed and let down. Because even if you get the kudos you wanted, the good feelings only last for so long and then you’re on the hunt for the next “Good job!”.

Lately, I’ve made it a point to ask myself a simple question before deciding to do something:

“What is my why?”

This simple question has made all the difference. It gives me that time to reflect on what my motivation is to do something. If my answer is “Because it’s something that will make me happy”, then I know I’m on the right track. If my answer is “Because I want recognition”, then I know I need to take a step back and take a deeper look at if that is the right thing for me to do. Sometimes, it’s not so black and white. Sometimes, your answer can be both and that’s ok. At least by taking that time to reflect on your motivation behind your reason for doing something, you go into that situation with clear, more realistic expectations.

By taking that time to figure out your own motivation, it makes it easier when you’re confronted with a situation where others look to you for that “Good job!” or recognition. This can be situations with children, family, friends, or even more formally with employees. This can be a challenging place to be. So what can we do when we’re put in these situations?

The first and most important thing to remember in any situation is that you cannot give from an empty cup. Before you can help others, you must do things that make you happy and fulfilled so that when you give to others it’s from your overflowing cup. All too often, we put others' needs before our own and all that does is leave us exhausted and depleted. In a way, it’s a disservice to everyone involved because we can’t show up for others the way they need us to if we can’t even show up for ourselves with what we need.

Once you’ve filled your own cup and begin to show up for others, it’s important to give others recognition for what they do, but don’t tell them good job just because you know that’s what the expectation is. This can come off as fake or disingenuous. Instead, when you tell someone “Good job!” be sure to include why you think they did a good job. This gives the other person a concrete example of what they did well and what you appreciated about it. Combining the “Good job!” with the why is a much better recipe for providing others with recognition than leaving it open-ended with only a “Good job!”, which can leave a lot of room for interpretation as to why it was good.

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