How to Tell if You’re Kidding Yourself

I’m writing this blog post while surrounded by people at a co-working space. The reason I chose this place is very simple.

I hate being alone.

Well, to clarify, I hate being alone when I’m doing work. I hate sitting in that perfect little office – the one I enthusiastically set up in my house a few months ago – and attempting to work through a project. It just doesn’t work for me. It’s isolating and too quiet…it’s almost maddening.

I find I’ll do anything to get up and distract myself…including walking over to the fridge to sooth myself with something carb-ish.

That horrible feeling had been happening more and more…and each time I’d tell myself to grow up, suck it up, and get the work done.

That’s what I’d tell myself, that is, until last week…when I finally realized that I was kidding myself.

For so long I’d been telling myself that I could be happy and efficient if I just forced myself to sit in that office and work through the pain.  Totally false.

We kid ourselves all the time.

We kid ourselves about the satisfaction or mandatory obligations we have around our jobs, our friends, our families. We tell ourselves things are fine or – if they’re not – that there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.

And sometimes that’s true. But not nearly as much as we like to believe.

Successful, happy, satisfied people know this. The rest of us have to figure it out on our own.

Every year I take a simple little test that helps me figure out just how I’m kidding myself. This year’s process led me directly to the bright, airy and mildly crowded place I sit in right now. No carbs necessary.

As you look ahead to the new year you might just want to test this out for yourself. Therefore, I present to you now…

Deirdre’s Guide to Tell If You’re Kidding Yourself

The process is quite simply, really. It’s a series of short, straightforward questions. Let us begin.

Question #1:  What were my top three moments of the past year?

We start out nice and easy, allowing you to reflect on your highs of the past 12 months or so. Did they happen at work? With a loved one or friends? Was it while travelling? Relaxing? Engaging in a hobby or sport?

I actually break out my calendar and look through my projects, meetings and trips. Every year I’m somewhat surprised by what rises to the top…and even more surprised by what doesn’t even come close.

When you figure out what your moments have in common, you’ll figure out not what you think you should be doing, but what you love to do, both professionally and personally. It’ll also tell you who you like hanging with.

This is important, as you’ll see.

Question #2: What were my three least favorite moments of the past year?

These aren’t about those monumental moments like grieving a loss or losing a job. They are more simple…like certain projects, meetings or tasks you had to do on a regular basis. Cleaning the house, attending a certain committee meeting and – of course – sitting in my office alone have all been on my list.

Facing your least favorite moments helps you recognize what (or who) is not really working for you…and what’s just sucking that life right out of you.

Question #3: How do I feel on a Sunday?

This one is about your job. (For those of you who don’t work the standard schedule, ask yourself how you feel on the day before returning to the work week.)

Do you find yourself a bit cranky? Extra tired or low energy? Anxious? Is there a particular project you’re dreading? People you’re dreading? Or are you eager and excited? 

Look for some consistency from week to week. It’ll tell you what you need to know…and if it might be time for a change.

Question #4:  What do I want to do more and what do I want to scrap forever?

Look at your answers to the first three questions. What themes bubbled up to the surface? What tasks or memories delighted you more than any others? What projects filled you with dread?

Allow yourself to recognize what fills you with energy and what brings you down. Then make a decision to add more of the first and subtract some of the second in the coming year. Know that you do have choices, even if it scares you.

Question #5:  Who do I want to see more and who needs to exit my life pronto?

You had to know this one was coming. Look again at your best and worst list and listen to your mind…and heart. Then make the choice to surround yourself with those who inspire, support and energize you.

Recognize how you’ve been kidding yourself when it comes to those you thought were good for you. They might just be the worst  part of your day.


Phase these people out. It might be painful, but in the end life’s too short to be around negative, energy-sucking people all the time, yes?

Wrapping it Up

No, this process isn’t easy. There’s a reason that ignorance can feel like such bliss…because when you kid yourself then you don’t actually have to do anything that causes change or ill feelings.


Just think of what might happen if you add in some more good stuff and subtract some of the stuff you hate. Imagine it. Then make it so.

I did. That’s why I’m out of my home office – and sitting next to a woman who is working quietly and giving me all kinds of energy without even knowing it.


Take 20 minutes and answer the questions honestly. Recognize how you’re kidding yourself. Then plan a few changes for a better year to come.

Pick one or two to start. Don’t think about the immediate pain that might follow your decision. Focus on the good stuff that comes after it.

Then act. And see how great your 2013 can really be.

Now go do good…and do it well.


19 responses to “How to Tell if You’re Kidding Yourself”

  1. Amy Collins Avatar

    I needed more than 20 minutes to do this, but it was totally worth it. What a terrific process. Thank you!

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      Thanks so much Amy…I’m so glad you liked it! Yes, I guess 20 minutes might be ambitious. I think it’s great you took the time to really think through the answers to these seemingly simple questions…nicely done!

  2. Susan P. Avatar
    Susan P.

    I appreciate your insight. It’s important to reflect and ask ourselves difficult questions and to come up with answers. I will definitely take the time today to anwer these questions so I can become more aware of what’s going right and of the areas I can improve upon. Thanks and be well.

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      Thanks, Susan…would love to know how it goes for you once you finish up the process. I bet you’ll learn a few surprises! Best of luck…

  3. Robyn Sharp Avatar
    Robyn Sharp

    Great post!

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      Hey Robyn – thanks for commenting – and for giving it a read!

  4. Natasha Avatar

    This process has been life-changing for me this past year. So many things that I thought I loved – I really didn’t. So many things I thought I was great at, I really wasn’t. It was a bad sad to reconcile myself to the truth about some things but also exciting because it helped me become more of who I really am. Loved the post!

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      Thanks for a great reply, Natasha…and I’m with you. Facing the truth can be tough, but it definitely leads to a more authentic and enjoyable experience in the end!

  5. Patricia Costa Avatar
    Patricia Costa

    Thank you Deirdre for great insite. I so agree. Change is difficult so it is easier to stay stuck in situations of negativity, hostility and just plain discomfort. I am trying little by little to be more observant of the people/things around me and their positive or negative effect on me.

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      My pleasure…thanks for your comment! I wish it weren’t so easy to stay stuck, but I guess it’s in our nature. Congrats to you for working on surrounding yourself with the positive!

  6. Hanna Cooper Avatar

    Thanks, Deidre – as I’m looking towards needing to be more strategic and focused this year, I know I’ve got to find those places I can say “no” – either to people or projects. What I know is that when I’ve done this type of an assessment before, what is left is more energizing and more meaningful for me, and allow more of the same to follow quickly. As a friend of mine says, “no” is a complete sentence! Thanks much!!

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      Great comments, Hanna – funny how saying such a simple word – “no” – can take such effort and discipline! Thanks for giving the post a read…

  7. Heidi Hancock Avatar

    These are great questions to help identify what you actually WANT. I’ve always found that question to be a bit overwhelming and scary. after all, like you said ignorance is bliss and if I just slave away a bit harder it will all work out… like never. Thanks for helping offload the yukkies and turn up the fun!

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      I love the way you describe the process – anytim I can help “offload the yukkies” I feel like I’m doing some kind of service :)…Thanks Heidi!

  8. Amy Thoe Avatar

    Thanks, Deirdre – great reminder to take stock as the new year begins. I find it a bit tricky with a new living situation AND a new job as of September – which cleared out a lot of that bad stuff automatically. So I’m trying to apply it to the more recent changes. With so much change in life, it’s hard at first to identify the problem areas, but they’re inevitably on their way! I’ll keep this in mind as I “settle in”. Thank you -hope you’re well!

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      Great point, Amy…if you’ve gone through your own transitions in the previous year, chances are might not yet know the answers to some of the questions. I guess there’s nothing saying this can’t be done mid-year, yes? Best of luck with all of your new adventures!

  9. Emily Davis Avatar

    The reflection piece has been so important and helpful for me to get clarity, both around what I love to do and what I do well. Moving into my co-working space has helped to make my goals become even more possible as I spend time organically surrounded by like-minded people. Pretty great 2013 to come!

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar
      Deirdre Maloney

      Agreed! I’m glad you also found some solace in the beauty of co-working…what a difference, yes? Thanks for your great comments, Emily!

  10. […] do things that you’re just not suited to do? Absolutely no.  Be honest enough to ask “am I kidding myself? Do I honestly have the disposition to do this task?” If the answer is no, then don’t […]