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Good year, or personal ineffectiveness

Dear Tanya,

I am so glad I am writing you this letter. It feels wonderful to relax and not be in a hurry today, wrapping myself in a scarf with delicate pattern of self-care. From the very first minute of our coaching session I felt the urge to wrap you in such a scarf, too, and tell you:

«Please, take good care of yourself! Don’t overload yourself with studies and work that much! Life is not only about reaching goals according to your plan. Don’t make it less than it is!”

I keep coming back to these words of yours:

«If I haven’t done anything to achieve my goal today, the day is wasted».

«One step left or one step right deviating from the goal equals death penalty».

By no means do I want to question the importance of your goal – to work for the company which ranks in TOP 3 in the world in your field. But hey, let’s maybe try to get to your dream job without “loosing so much blood”? Cause that’s exactly the image I have in my mind after hearing your words. Your approach might be a super efficient one, but it’s definitely not that healthy.

You are so concentrated on your goal that you don’t allow yourself to appreciate other pleasures of life. Moreover, to maximise the”efficiency”, you devalued them to a minimum. Cause in this way it’s easier to say no to them. You liked to cycle a lot – and you haven’t done that for months. Your doctor said that it’s better to stop jogging – well, there are other ways to keep yourself fit. Caring for yourself means that you can choose the activity you like and devote time to enjoying it! I suggest that you make a new super-efficient poster and put it above your desk:

«Enjoying life is my priority #1 now!»

I guarantee that you will achieve more in your career, I am serious.

I also paid attention to what you said about your life before you began reading motivation books and setting yourself challenging goals. You studied, worked and also had time to meet friends! “I knew how to enjoy all this beauty”, you said. I recall one more phrase of yours: “I have a feeling that people wrote all these books on setting goals simply to make money”. Watch out! We should be receiving many critical remarks by now!:) For we have impringed on the sacred mantra of the modern world: “Reach goals, plan and endlessly increase effectiveness!”. The more, the better!

When I see hundreds of announcements about seminars on this topic, I can’t help but feel the aftertaste of fastfood, not a decent restaurant. You can’t feed yourself with snacks on a daily basis. You need “a proper meal”. A healthy system where your soft skill of enjoying simple pleasures of life complements your professional skills. I have nothing against trainings on personal effectiveness. There are many talented writers who help people achieve more, do more in 24 hours and motivate them to be bold and achieve great goals. The only thing is that at present moment your utmost priority should be personal… ineffectiveness:)

You liked the music and the atmosphere in that cafe where we met, didn’t you? Did you see that table on the right, next to the entrance, with notepads and postcards? You can sit there for hours, melting with pleasure, listening to music and feeling how the tension of the day is gradually fading away. Tanya, you spent one full hour (!) in this place without doing anything to achieve your professional goal – that’s unthinkable!:)

Hey, do you honestly think that those wonderful moments happening outside your office mean nothing and the only valuable thing is your professional achievements? You seem to understand the value of health and spending time with people you love, but to me this understanding resembles a blinking light from the lighthouse during the storm. And I am afraid you can easily push health down the list of your priorities as soon as new attractive career opportunity looms on the horizon.

Think of the price you are going to pay for climbing yet another step up your career ladder? You risk to be extremely efficient there at the top, but also tired and extremely …unwell!

The price will also include days and months vanishing one after another, lack of sleep and evenings when you feel stressed because you are still not efficient enough – you still need to do a lot, yet you are already tired. You forbid yourself to relax, so the only option available is to go … online. Then you criticise yourself for this, as reading Facebook posts absorbs all your remaining energy. You say that you and your friends have different interests now. But friendship is an investment of time and soul. Do this, and you’ll definitely meet new friends along the way!

Any step past your career goal equals defeat for you. Well, when you get there, it won’t be new career achievement, Tanya. It’s a scaffold. And it hurts to see you there. Cause this is not your way.

Please treat yourself more tenderly – as the people who love you do treat you. You are lucky to have them in your life! Still, we are truly happy and efficient only if we can take care of ourselves. That’s why most important tasks for you now are exactly those ones that you consider not important at all:) That’s not about your studies or work. Your important goal as of now is to learn how to drink ocffee in a nice cafe and don’t be on a rush. Breathe and walk in the park without any thoughts about your work. Look at the first spring grass under your feet, breathe the fresh air and put your smarthone on silent mode. Beau-ti-ful. In fact, there’s only one recipe, if you’ll ask me for one:

Let yourself live, let life take care of you.

And don’t read any books on personal effectiveness:)

I’d also like to say a few words about your career goal.

It seems that you are idealising the future. You picture a lot of ideas you borrowed from olleagues, not the ones that originated deep inside your soul. Tell me, do you really want three business trips per week and even more busy schedule? And one more thing – do you really want to postpone the pleasure of enjoying fresh air at your balcony sitting by your ideal cosy table? (In fact, your sole is craving for finding the time for yourself NOW!) Here’s one more question – what exactly attracts you to that lifestyle at your ideal working place? And why? Maybe you already have something from your ideal life? If yes – appreciate it! If not, what can you do to bring it into your life? And most importantly, is your current career plan the only way to do what’s important and valuable for you?

These are million dollar questions, Tanya. And answers to these questions pave the road to your happiness, health and the work you love.

The future isn’t here yet. Right now, at this very moment, there’s you, who is now reading these lines, your breath and the rustle of leaves behind the window.

Coming back to what you said – that when you will have your ideal job, you will then have your ideal flat and an ideal table on the balcony. And you are going to sit there drinking your ideal coffee. Don’t wait for this, Tanya! Once you get back home, go find a cafe on your way to work. Your favourite table and your favourite life. Which is happening right now. Cause ideal balcony might be something that never happens. And we don’t want things that never happen in our lives, right?

Photo: Ecair Artwork

Photo: Eclair Little Artwork

Did you like that music in the cafe? If yes, listen also to the soundtrack for «Good year» movie. Please do! Schedule this task in your weekly plan, I am serious:)! Listen to a lot of good music, don’t push this pleasure and joy down the list of your priorities. Again – take this task seriously, please.

By the way, there is a really great scene in «Good year» movie. The uncle of the main character talks to his vinemaker and shares his concern about the nephew: «How can I leave estate to my selfish nephew who doesn’t appreciate simple pleasures of life?»

His nephew Max doesn’t quite care about anything or anyone besides earning money. But is he really happy? When his uncle dies and Max comes to France to his estate, vanity fair which was his natural environment in London gives way to quite a different lifestyle. Peopel are not in a hurry in this small French town – they take time to breathe, enjoy the taste of croissant or indulge into long siestas. They clean the neglected tennis court and then play tennis with equal pleasure. Drinking milk from the bottle as if you were a kid is fun there, too:) In order to bring this joy back to your life one doesn’t need to leave London. One just need to undertake the inner journey to what brings you meaning and joy.

So you are good to go, Tanya!

I am also sending you a present – the book called “Bonjour, Happiness!: Secrets to Finding your Joie de Vivre”, so that you could enjoy your favourite coffee even more:) It’s about simple yet so important things in life which you can actually plan to enjoy.

Thank you for the pleasure of writing you this letter! I did take good care of myself today – I created this text and enjoyed writing it a lot. Please do take care of yourself, too!


Olga Maksymenko



After coaching sessions I often send useful links and inspiring articles to people I work with. There are a lot of ideas and insights in these emails. They are like hand written letters to me. I started publishing them with permission from the addressees. And I feel really happy that I can share one of these letters with you!

This is how the new project – LETTERS – started.

You can now order a letter from me as well. I will write it on the topic of your specific interest and it won’t be published.

Write me at olga@lifestylist.com.ua or call +38 095 197 11 22 (Viber, What’s up).

Why can this be of interest for you? I don’t record our coaching sessions, but sometimes make notes. Our conversations spark a lot of great metaphores, comparisons and ideas worth exploring. And written text such as letter is a great way to keep them at our disposal when needed. You have this opportunity now thanks ot LETTERS project!

You can also order a letter without doing coaching session with me.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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