Underachieving: My New M.O.

Jo Gifford

It has taken me all of my 40 years to embrace this one, but right now, for me, underachieving is the new black. Or floral. Or neon. Or whatever.  

Have I decided to stop aiming high, to stop working on myself and being a better human? Hell no. 

I HAVE, however, decided to reduce the amount of Stuff To Do on my combination of Trello boards/Bullet Journal/Post It Notes/Reminders and general brain narrations of what Should/Could get done. 

It has taken me a long time to embrace this. 

8 years into being a parent, 11 years into being my own boss, 22 years of being an adult- over achieving has been my driving force for a loooooong time.

The voice in my head has always been driving me to do more, to try harder, to be the best. 

This can be a great thing when committing to a particular end goal, but as a life soundtrack that voice gets pretty repetitive. 

Eventually all you see is how far you have to go, not how far you have come.  

You miss out on the invaluable reflections of all you have learned, all you have become, all the wonderful lessons and trials along the way.  

For me, always trying to over achieve leads to never feeling good enough right now.

Right here. NOW. 

via instagram/radiancecleanse

via instagram/radiancecleanse

For example, it's the Easter holidays right now, so like many of you I am combining work with time off with my little dudes.  

On Monday - Day 1 - we watched a film, made pancakes, did glitter tattoos, sticker books, played games, went urban sketching by the river...all by mid-morning, in between making snacks, making picnics, clearing up and getting everyone dressed. The girls were tired and grumpy (what they really needed was a chilled day), and I was exhausted. 

For the rest of this week, we have been underachieving. I made a conscious effort to lower my own expectations of what to do with my dudes, and guess what? Everyone is happier.  

The girls have been inventing games, playing outside, resting. The flow is back. 

Its the same with business.  

Whenever I give myself permission to tick off at least 70% of what I "should" be doing, the pressure reduces. It all becomes MUCH more fun, it feels more free, and I love my work again. 

Freedom and space are bff's with flow and creativity, and that moves the needle for me every time way more than self flagellation with a todo list.

New reading 📖 fodder #creativethinking #brandyourbrilliance #toofasttothink

A post shared by Jo Gifford (@dexdiva) on

Structure and consistent action get things done, no question. 

My new discovery, though, is that there is ALWAYS something to do to make things better, bigger, more. It just doesn't have to be done right now. This minute.  

In fact, rediscovering space brings ease, it allows the spark to come back into everything you do.

This, in turn gets shit done pretty damn quickly.

That's the paradox, peeps.

A big part of the underachievement movement (Gifford, 2017) has been stepping away from the noise of what everyone else is doing. 

Right now it has been 2 weeks of no Facebook app on my iPhone. I check into groups for my community and my clients, I am active on messenger, but I don't know how much everyone else has reportedly done that day. 

If you just got a book deal, had a 7 figure launch before your morning espresso, or did pole dancing whilst baking cake pops I would have no idea. 

And guess what?  

I am still alive, the world didn't end, people still contact me, and I feel more than enough.  

For me, learning to listen to what I truly need is a daily practise. 

Leaning into how I show up each day in all the roles I play is way easier when using a mixture of intuition, self reflection, and not letting that inner voice run the show anymore. 

I have no doubt it's going to be an ongoing process- after all you don't undo a lifetime of trying to overachieve in a couple of weeks. 

But for now, I am playing with the new paradigm of going several notches below where I would usually aim.  

Pin this post for later.

And it's good.  

So, share with me- could you consciously try and under achieve? How does it make you feel? Can you relate to that inner voice?  

Let me know.   You can leave a comment below, or send me a message right here.

In the meantime, I am off to rip up my to do list and plan some fun (which just auto corrected to gin- hey, who am I to argue?). 

To your true brilliance,  

Jo xox